A Decade of Growth  1950 – 1959

1950 began with 155 people attending apprenticeship classes.  Instructors included Ernest Millirpon, Roger Niedermeyer, Chris Klawa, Walter Scheef, O.T. Fugit, Clarence Emmons, Alex Ebel, Ray Miller, and Virgil Scott.

The quality of on-the-job training was of particular interest to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.  In 1950 Labor Commissioner Norm Nielson wrote a letter to the Portland Electrical Apprenticeship Committee cautioning against sending apprentices to one-man shops.  The Portland Apprenticeship Committee also had subcommittees in outlying areas including Forest Grove, Vancouver, Clackamas County, and Washington County. 

Apprentices were scheduled to attend 180 hours of related classroom instruction per year; 144 hours was the minimum requirement.  In 1953 a number of apprentices were working on The Dalles Dam.  As a result, classes were held in The Dalles with Laddie Melvin as the instructor.  Separate classes were also held in Vancouver. 

In 1954 the Committee met with representatives of Benson High School to discuss moving classes from the Apprentice School (Beech Street) to Benson; the move was completed in 1955.  Following 2 years of discussion a pre-apprenticeship program at Benson was formalized in 1957. 

By 1959 there were large numbers of apprentices unemployed; employers were encouraged to contact the Local prior to indenturing any additional apprentices (apprentices were still indentured to individual employers or the union).  The upper age for entry into the program was 26 years plus years of military service.

The industry recognized the need to promote itself.  Contractors participated in trade shows such as the Home Show.  The Apprenticeship Committee developed an Outstanding Electrical Apprentice award which later provided the inspiration to develop a statewide competition.

The industry continued to change and grow.  Many contractors who began in the 30’s and 40’s were no longer around.  Some changed ownership and some went out of business.  Contractors involved during the 50’s included Rose City Electric, Christenson Electric, Bob Smith Electric, Greiner Electric, W.R. Grasle, Adams and Rankin Co., Watco Electric, McCoy Electric, Arrow Electric, Williams Electric, Ajax Electric, Electrical Construction Co, Heil Electric, Hanniff Electric, Neon Sign Service Co, Rutherford Electric, Brabham Electric, Beaverton Service, Bjur Electric, Hayes Electric, Sutherland Electric, Friberg Electric, VanDoozer Electric, Allison Electric,  Morris T Nelson Electric, Post Electric, Mohlig Electric, Kaad Electric, Hagen Electric, Dimitrie Electric, Empire Electric, Bressie Electric, Franklin Electric, Broadway Electric, Graham Electric, East Portland Electric, Emory and Bohm Electric, Orient Electric, Sirianni Electric, T.N.T. Electric, Olson Electric, Pitman Electric, Midway Electric, Haskins Electric, Delta Electric, Beck’s Electric, Oregon Electric Construction, Cascade Electric, B and R Electric, Metro Electric, Montgomery Electric, Krauser Electric, Knox Electric, Reese Electric, Lord Electric, Bagne Electric, RW Goin Co, Bee Electric, JH Langley Electric, Oliphant Electric, Evergreen Electric, Grand Electric, Morrison Electric, AR Johnson, Azbar Electric, Jan Electric, Kilowatt Electric, Viner Electric, Ideal Electric, Owens and McIntyre, WP Scheller Electric, Huenergard Electric, Jaggar Sroufe,  School District #1, Galloway Electric, Rocket Electric, Bair Electric, Newton Electric, Tice Electric, and Clark Electric.

Laurence Rodgers continued as Chapter Manager through 1957.  In 1958 the Chapter hired Robert Burns to replace Mr. Rodgers as  Manager.  The Local remained under the leadership of  “Hub” Harrison throughout the 50’s.

Next month: A Decade of Change, 1960 - 1969