The War and Post War Years   1940 - 1949

The War and Post War Years   1940 - 1949Following the demolition of Stephens School in SE Portland, the Apprenticeship Program moved to a temporary home in the Atkinson Building at NW 11th and Davis (also referred to as the North School).  In 1941 the Program, along with the other apprenticeship programs, moved to the Portland Apprentice School at 220 NE Beech Street.  This school was originally called the Albina Homestead School; old-timers refer to it as the Beech Street School.

In February of 1940 there were 1000 “unlimited” electrical licenses in Oregon and 300 “limited” licenses.  The apprenticeship program began training a new generation of electricians.  Our program became a model for others; in  December of1940 Local 659 in Medford requested help setting up their program.

After WWII began the program changed rapidly.  Work in the shipyards overshadowed construction. By 1943 there were 116 people attending classes at the Apprentice School, largely shipyard workers.  Since the shipyards operated on 3 shifts students attended school either Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 10 PM or they attended Tuesday and Friday from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

In 1942 the National Electrical Contractors Association, Portland Chapter was replaced by a new employer association - The Portland Electrical Contractors Association.  WR Grasle was elected Chair and Jim Scudder, Secretary.  In 1943 the Chapter re-established affiliation with NECA.

Many of the apprentices enlisted in the military to support the war effort; occupational draft deferments were available to apprentices who had 2 or more years in the apprenticeship program.  During the war the apprentice wage rates began at 50% of journeyman’s pay and progressed to 95 % over the 5-year apprenticeship.  By the end of the war, the number of indentured apprentices had dropped to 25.

The program changed dramatically after the armistice.  Returning veterans filled up the classrooms at the Apprentice School.  By December of 1945 the program had grown to 52 apprentices (34 were veterans).  One year later the program had 101 apprentices (86 were veterans).  Classes were overcrowded at the Apprentice School.  Trade extension classes were also very popular.  

Three significant changes to the program occurred in 1946 – 1) the program was changed from a 5 year program to a 4 year program,   2) IBEW Local 48 began indenturing apprentices (heretofore all apprentices were indentured to employers), and 3) the start wage for apprentices was lowered to 25% (veterans start rate remained at 50%).  Un employment among the apprentices continued to increase; by 1948 many apprentices were either unemployed or working part time.  In 1949 there were 104 apprentices in the program. 

Classroom attendance remained a major problem.  In March of 1948 the Apprenticeship Committee took action to cancel 51 apprentices for nonattendance.

During the 40’s, apprenticeship instructors included Alex Ebel, W. E. Roberts, Virgil Scott, Walter Scheef, Clarence Emmons, and O.T. Fugit.

Contractors who played a role in apprenticeship in the 40’s included WR Grasle, McCoy Electric, Bressie Electric, Webb Electric, Ajax Electric, AR Johnson, Ace Electric, Montgomery Electric, A.J. Hunergardt, Lloyd L. Bartlett, Sutherland Electric, KV Allison, Graham Electric, Friberg Electric, Tice Electric, Collins – Paulsen, Reiter, Jaggar-Sroufe, EL Knight, Electrical Construction Company, Faber Electric, Olson Electric, Roberts Electric, Greiner Electric, Peterson Electric, George Janin Electric, Gordon Nagel, Christenson Electric, Multnomah County, Tide Electric, Roper Electric, Hays Electric, Rochat Electric, Kenney Electric, Bjur Electric, Adams-Rankin, Delta Electric, Oregon Electric, Broadway Electric, Franklin and Moeller, Bartlett Electric, Began Electric, George Knox Electric, McNab Electric, Moffat and Britton, Sirianni Electric, Hollywood Electric, Harris Tigard, Krauser Electric, Watco Electric, Imlay Electric, Cascade Electric, Kadd Electric, VanDoozer Electric, Rose City Electric, and West Portland Electric.

The Business Manager/ Financial Secretary for Local 48 from 1930 to 1948 was Joe Lake.  In 1948 “Hub” Harrison succeeded Mr. Lake as BM/FS of Local 48.

Laurence Rodgers replaced J.R. Tomlinson as NECA Chapter Manager during the 40’s. 

Next month:   A Decade of Growth,   1950 - 1959