(S)tones and bricks … never lie to you. They will, if you let them, tell you all the aspirations of the people. They will name their rulers and their gods and tell you of their defeats and their victories.
— Mary Heaton Vorse
By Norm Diamond, Contributing Writer
For the high school students attending a Portland labor history conference, Old Town was a revelation. They all had been here many times, but now were seeing their surroundings with fresh eyes. That undistinguished storefront had once been a revolutionary bookstore. On this noisy corner, orators fired up Depression-era crowds of unemployed workers. That slick nightclub was once a gathering place for radicals and agitators, men and women with a vision of an economic system based on cooperation rather than greed. Continue reading
By Michael Munk, Contributing Writer
Background: Four months ago, contract talks between the ILWU and EGT broke down, making the Longview site the only grain terminal on the West Coast not operated by the ILWU. The union says its contract with the Port of Longview requires EGT to hire the ILWU Local 21 labor for the terminal.
EGT attorneys sued the port in federal court in January, saying the company is not bound by the port’s contract. A trial is scheduled for next year.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 and allies demonstrate outside the EGT Development headquarters in Portland after the company refused to honor the union’s contract with the Port of Longview. Continue reading
In today’s Oregonian, Anne Saker writes about the effort to restore the memory of the Francis J. Murnane Wharf, threatened by the reconstruction of Waterfront Park at the end of Ankeny Street. Union leaders are now pushing to preserve the memory of the ILWU’s inspiring leader following an article in Street Roots by Portland author Michael Munk. Here’s the story by Munk from the March 20 Street Roots:
By Michael Munk
The impending relocation of Portland’s Saturday market includes a new pedestrian walk cantilevered just over the Willamette River south of the Burnside Bridge. But will its strollers be aware they are passing over the only public memorial to a labor leader in the state of Oregon?
Since it was dedicated by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) leader Harry Bridges in 1979, the Francis J. Murnane Wharf has stood (and floated) at the seawall at the foot of SW Ankeny Street. It commemorates Murnane’s career as an organizer of the former CIO International Woodworkers of America (IWA) in the 1930s and after 1946 as a longshoreman and president of Portland ILWU Local 8. He died in 1968 while chairing a meeting of its members at a time when he had also become a prominent leader of the historic preservation movement in the city.
Bridges noted that Murnane’s IWA and ILWU were both founded “in the spirit of the old Industrial Workers of the World” and that “it was always his hope that the slogan of the Wobblies (and Karl Marx) would come true: ‘Workers of the World Unite.’” Father Bertram Griffin of St. Andrews Catholic Church followed Bridges to bless the wharf for the use of “radicals, labor activists, and lovers.”
During the McCarthy Era, Murnane was an outspoken defender of persecuted radicals. He organized the Julia Eaton Ruuttila Defense Committee in 1948 — and more than 30 years later Ruuttila reported the Wharf dedication in the union paper, The Dispatcher. As chair of Portland’s Harry Bridges Defense Committee in 1949, Murnane denounced the Portland police Red Squad for targeting the ILWU leader. He ran for the state legislature on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948.
October 2, 2008
The new Street Roots hits the streets tomorrow. Buy a new copy from your local and friendly neighborhood vendor. You won’t be disappointed.
Amanda Waldroupe gets the scoop with Richard Harris, the former Executive Director of Central City Concern. Harris is now heading up the Addiction and Mental Health Division with the State of Oregon and hopes to change the cultural of the states mental health delivery systems.
The sit-lie ordinance is ruled constitutional. A local judge likens the statute to public safety laws regarding bicycling. Find out what went down in the courtroom and why attorneys are appealing the decision.
Michael Munk, the local author of Portland’s Red Guide talks Marxism, the Rose City’s radical past and where the Left fairs today.
Another installment of Tye Doudy’s Addict’s Almanac brings us a bit closer to the realities of life as a junkie.
Readers respond to Addicts Almanac, hundreds of activists squat Seattle’s parks, Michael Anderson is hired as the Oregon Opportunity Network’s Executive Director, and Soup Can Sam gives you something extra to think about.