I learned from the first meeting with the Powells employees that it was attractive to them that they would have their own local and the autonomy that it allowed. Having their own local was an effective talking point when building support for a union at Powells.
Looking back twenty years now, I can see that it was inevitable that my tenure leading the work of the union would be temporary and limited. Still, when the allegations against me were shared I was shocked, surprised and hurt. My boss, Peter, said the document that was shared with him and then with me sounded like a lovers spat. His take on the grievances against me seemed very perceptive but I couldn’t at that time validate or comment on his observation.
I believed then and still believe that Mary was the instigator of the grievances because I had not returned her advances. Some felt it was time for the local to assert its autonomy and so she was able to recruit others interested in ousting me. I understand that now. At the time I was shocked so many people joined in the complaints against me. I worked closely with all of them and it hurt, I felt that my work was unappreciated. Given the number of people who joined the complaint, shared in a lengthy document, I felt uncomfortable sharing that I believed Mary organized the complaint and the reason she did it.
With the benefit of these twenty years I can see that my dismissal from the autonomous local was inevitable. Although I worked closely with these people, ultimately I was an outsider. I can see the rebellion against me now in this healthy light.
The election won, the contract settled, the Powells employees were ready to assume control. We were working on their constitution, their governing document. In this process I became an unwelcome outsider. The means for that takeover, my dismissal, of course didn’t have to take the form of a lover’s spat. Some of the allegations were very petty, one I remember, that I had taken a vacation at a critical time. Of course the vacation had been approved by my supervisor.
It was surprising, and it especially hurtful to me that some who had voted against the union, who had campaigned against the union, and who now were included as union supporters joined in the criticism of my work. This seemed very unfair to me at the time.
As I have shared elsewhere the campaign was long and the contract campaign stressful. The allegations came at the end of this long struggle. The work of creating the local was happening. There was still more work to do of course and that was my focus.
I see now, clearly, this was the end of my career with the ILWU, although, afterwards I continued working and organizing new locals. I was fortunate that without any gap in employment I transitioned to my last job, working for two local unions, part of the American Federation of Teachers at Portland Community College. My tenure there was rewarding and lasted for fifteen years. I retired in October 2017.