You are here

A2. Green Unionism

In Memory of Fellow Worker Tortuguita

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Thu, 02/02/2023 - 20:32

By staff - IWW Freelance Journalists Union, January 30, 2023

On January 18, 2023, Manuel “Tortuguita” Páez Terán was murdered by the Georgia State Patrol in Atlanta, according to comrades with whom they were defending Weelaunee Forest from the construction of an 85-acre police training facility appropriately derided as “Cop City.”

As a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, Tortuguita belonged to the countless ranks of Fellow Workers who seek, in the words of the IWW Constitution, to “take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.” In death, Fellow Worker Tortuguita joins the long list of IWW martyrs who have been murdered by the forces of the state and capital, which exploit all workers and our planet.

To support Fellow Worker Tortuguita’s family in this moment of need, the IWW Freelance Journalists Union encourages all of our members and supporters to donate to, and share widely, the fundraiser established for their funeral expenses.

We also encourage our members and supporters to donate to, and share, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which continues supporting Fellow Worker Tortuguita’s comrades who are yet being prosecuted by the state for defending Weelaunee Forest against Cop City.

Fellow Worker Tortuguita may be gone, but if we are able to defeat Cop City, then their spirit can live forever in the hearts of all those who visit Weelaunee Forest for generations to come. To paraphrase the words of another IWW martyr: Don’t mourn — organize!

Tags: Atlanta Forestmobilizations and uprisingsanti-capitalismlibertarian-socialismIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Federal public land grazing fees stay low despite inflation and climate costs

PEER - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 12:58

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Josh Osher, Western Watersheds Project (406) 830-3099;
Chandra Rosenthal, PEER (303) 898-0798,


Cheaper than ever: Federal public land grazing fees stay low despite inflation and climate costs

Washington, DC – The federal lands grazing fee was announced yesterday and, for the fifth year in a row, has stayed at bargain-basement prices: $1.35 per cow/calf pair per month for all Bureau of Land Management and western U.S. Forest Service lands. For comparison, a 2019 congressional investigation found that leasing comparable livestock grazing on private ranchlands in the West came at a cost of $23.40 in 2017. This low fee doesn’t even come close to covering the administrative costs needed to run the grazing programs, leaving huge staffing shortfalls and little oversight of the public lands.  It also amounts to a massive federal handout for the livestock industry and billionaire ranchers while completely ignoring the significant contributions of livestock grazing to both the climate and biodiversity crises.

“The failure of the Biden Administration to raise the federal grazing fee, which is established by a Reagan era Executive Order, is not only fiscally irresponsible and unfair to taxpayers, it’s also a lost opportunity for improving carbon sequestration and building climate resilience in the arid West,” said Josh Osher, Public Policy Director for Western Watersheds Project. “After a year where Americans experienced particularly heavy inflation, the inflation-adjusted cost of running livestock on public lands actually just got cheaper.”

A 2022 scientific study estimated that the social costs of the livestock grazing program exceeded 26 times what the grazing fees generate, averaging over $500 million dollars a year between 2010 and 2016. The study also found:

  • Public lands livestock grazing is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Cattle grazing exacerbates the effects of climate change by reducing vegetation cover, spreading flammable weeds, and accelerating desertification through soil loss;
  • Reduced snowpacks and prolonged droughts negatively affect water quantity, and livestock are a major source of water pollution.

While ranchers are now charged only $1.35 to graze a cow and a calf (or 5 sheep) for a month (called an “Animal Unit Month”) on federal public land, this new study shows that the climate impacts of grazing cattle on federal land cost Americans $36 per Animal Unit Month.

“Increased grazing fees could fund agencies that are in distress. The failure to raise the rate is a failure in stewardship” says Chandra Rosenthal, Rocky Mountain Director PEER. “BLM has classified millions of acres of public lands as failing to meet land health standards. The agencies do not have the capacity for responsible land management and this administration is letting another opportunity to address this issue walk by.”

“In light of all of these expensive impacts and the long-term degradation of western public land caused by this single land use, you might think the Biden Administration would seek to recoup more of its losses by raising the grazing fee,” said Osher. “Rather, public lands grazing fees are the only expense immune to inflation, despite the increasing costs to the taxpayer of subsidizing this destructive activity.”


Check out BLM’s data on rangeland conditions and the BLM’s failure to oversee the grazing program

See PEER 2022 report on BLM staffing shortfalls

Read the investigation into the billionaires who lease public lands on subsidies

The post Federal public land grazing fees stay low despite inflation and climate costs appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Open Position | Institutional Giving Manager

PEER - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 07:00
Institutional Giving Manager

PEER is a unique, dynamic and fast-paced organization whose employees and supporters are passionate about addressing critical environmental and public health issues. PEER’s mission is to support current and former public employees who seek a higher standard of environmental ethics and scientific integrity within their agencies. We do this by defending whistleblowers, shining the light on improper or illegal government actions, working to improve laws and regulations, and supporting the work of other organizations. Since the organization’s founding in 1992, thousands of scientists, law enforcement officers, land managers, attorneys, and other professionals have relied on PEER to help make the government accountable to the public and protect employees who protect the environment.

About this Position

PEER is seeking a dynamic and ambitious fundraising professional to conceive, design, and lead effective institutional grant fundraising strategies to expand and enhance our organization’s revenue stream and portfolio funders. This position holds a pivotal role in identifying and cultivating new funding opportunities and strategic partnerships that result in long-term funding relationships between the foundation and PEER. The ideal candidate is a compelling writer and clear communicator, a results-oriented strategic thinker, highly organized, and a relationship builder. This position reports directly to the Director of Development, works closely with the Executive Director and other staff, and requires considerable interaction with Foundation staff and donors.

Full-time, exempt position. On occasion, the position may require evening and weekend work.
This position is fully remote within the United States.

Duties and Responsibilities

Foundation Relations

  • Identify and prospect for new institutional funding prospects and create cultivation and solicitation plans to secure funds.
  • Engage and support PEER’s leadership and program staff in the solicitation and cultivation of prospects as appropriate.
  • Work closely and manage relations with program staff and leadership and the development team to achieve program and fundraising goals.
  • Conduct ongoing stewardship calls and arrange meetings to maintain and build funder relationships.

Write Compelling Proposals and Reports

  • Create compelling proposals for new funders and key renewal funding.
  • Prepare and submit grant proposals to private funding sources including budgets and program/project design in collaboration with leadership and program staff.
  • Coordinate scheduling of leadership and other key staff as it relates to grant writing and input, grant application review, tracking, follow-up, and grant reporting to funders.
  • Maintain a grants calendar to ensure timely submission of LOIs, proposal deadlines and reports.
  • Ensure prompt acknowledgment of all grant awards.
  • Input and update all grant activity in CRM database. Maintain electronic grant files.

Serve as a Writing and Editing Expert

  • Write, review, and edit donor and external audience content.
  • Perform other writing related tasks for the development department, including the Annual Report and stewardship reports.
  • Contribute to PEEReview, PEERMail, and other donor materials.
  • Layout PEEReview, special appeals, and renewals.
  • Produce highly stylized proposals and other donor facing materials as needed using programs such as Adobe InDesign.

Other Occasional Responsibilities

  • Assist in mailing out press releases when needed
  • Provide occasional event support as needed.
  • Support the Director of Development as requested
  • Identify and prospect for new institutional funding prospects and create cultivation and solicitation plans to secure funds.
  • Engage and support PEER’s leadership and program staff in the solicitation and cultivation of prospects as appropriate.
  • Work closely and manage relations with program staff and leadership and the development team to achieve program and fundraising goals.
  • Conduct ongoing stewardship calls and arrange meetings to maintain and build funder relationships.
  • Bachelor’s degree required. Master’s degree or higher preferred in journalism, English, or related field.
  • Non-profit development experience, with at least five years of successfully soliciting and stewarding grants from foundations.
  • Highly developed written, verbal, research, and editorial skills, with ability to synthesize information and compose clear and effective prose.
  • Experience with juggling multiple priorities in a fast-paced non-profit environment with strong organizational, project management and leadership skills, and attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct independent donor research on prospective institutional funders.
  • Interest and experience working with non-profits in the environment and/or advocacy sectors and ideally holds existing funder relationships.
  • Preferred experience working with a geographically dispersed organization across multiple time zones.
  • Fluency in Microsoft Office and willingness to learn Adobe InDesign.
  • Experience with Salsa CRM or other donor database a plus.

This is a full-time exempt position with full benefits and a salary range of $70,000-$80,000.

To Apply

Submit a Cover Letter, Resume, and successful grant sample as a PDF document and type “Institutional Giving Manager” in the subject line. Send to

PEER is an equal opportunity employer. All aspects of employment including the decision to hire, promote, discipline, or discharge, will be based on merit, competence, performance, and business needs. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy, genetic information, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other status protected under federal, state, or local law.

The post Open Position | Institutional Giving Manager appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Chapter 2 : Pollution, Love it or Leave it!

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 16:54

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

"Since when are humans solely a biological product of wilderness? (What is ‘wilderness’?) If you accept an evolutionary development of Homo sapiens, as I do, it does not mean that you profess a disbelief in God. Quite the contrary. It was God, the Creator, who created humans, who imbued them with a will, with a soul, with a conscience, with the ability to determine right from wrong. It is inconceivable that the Creator would create such vast resources on earth without expecting them to be utilized."

—Glenn Simmons, editor of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 1, 1990.

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

—Edward Abbey

Earth shattering though it may have seemed, the IWW’s victory was both transitory and incomplete, and historical currents would never again mesh as perfectly. To begin with, the strike on the job had taken place only in the Pacific Northwest, and had excluded California at that. The Wobblies recognized one strategic weakness in this situation in noting that the employers could have eventually organized a lockout of that region and relied instead on wood production from the southern or eastern United States. They knew—in the abstract at least—that their victory would never be complete until they organized all lumber workers nationally and internationally.[1] The Wobblies inability to make inroads among the highly skilled redwood loggers of California’s North Coast was especially troublesome, and it portended their undoing. Two companies, Pacific Lumber (P-L) and Hammond Lumber Company (HLC) had each adopted separate techniques that had kept the IWW out and would soon be duplicated by the Lumber Trust elsewhere. That combined with the much larger shockwaves brought on by the Russian Revolution in 1917 conspired against the One Big Union and led to the eventual decline of the American working class as an adversarial force and the liquidation of the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Although most corporations comprising the Lumber Trust had refused to budge, lest they embolden the Wobblies, there were those that adopted “welfare capitalism” on their own initiative, in which they would provide amenities and benefits to their workers—union or not—in an attempt to win over their loyalty. It was in the crucible of timber worker unionism, Humboldt County, where this was first attempted with any lasting success, by the Pacific Lumber Company (P-L), based in Scotia, beginning in 1909. P-L had discovered that by creating a wide variety of social programs, employee benefits, and community based events, it was able to secure the loyalty and stability of its workforce. P-L general manager A. E. Blockinger described these efforts in great detail in an article featured in the Pioneer Western Lumberman:

"A reading room with facilities for letter writing and any games, except gambling, is easily and cheaply put into any camp. Arrange subscription clubs for papers and periodicals or let the company do it for the men. If you can have a circulating library among your camps and at the mill plant, it will be much appreciated. Let the daily or weekly papers be of all nationalities as represented in your camp. Lumber trade journals are especially interesting to the men and they can and will readily follow the markets for lumber and appreciate that you have some troubles of your own.

“Organize fire departments among your men. The insurance companies will give you reductions in rates for such additional protection while it offers another opportunity for your men to relax and enjoy themselves.

“Shower baths at the camps or mill are easily and cheaply installed. They will be used and appreciated after a hot, dusty day’s work.

“Get your men loyal and keep them so. Let this replace loyalty to a union. The spirit is what you want in your men. Ten good men will accomplish as much as fifteen ordinary laborers if the spirit and good will is there. Treat them right and they will treat you right.”[2]

The employers’ introduction of paternalism achieved its intended goal. The Secretary of the Pacific Logging Congress, an employers’ association had declared in his 1912 report, “The best cure for the IWW plague—a people without a country and without a God—is the cultivation of the homing instinct in men.”[3] When the IWW campaign for the eight hour day ensued in 1917, P-L simply added more programs. Carleton H. Parker, a onetime U.C. Berkeley economics professor working for the War Department as a mediator during the lumber workers’ strike, had previously conducted sociological studies on workers, including agricultural and timber laborers. Parker was familiar with P-L, and had some fairly extensive knowledge of the Wobblies.[4] Some of the latter had been gained through first-hand studies by two of his assistants, Paul Brissenden[5] and F. C. Mills[6] who had posed as IWW members and later produced extensive studies on the organization. Using this knowledge, Parker offered many suggestions to Disque which the latter somewhat reluctantly adopted. The LLLL created social halls for its members and replaced the employment sharks with free employment agencies. The IWW quite rightly recognized these amenities as a means to buy the workers’ loyalty and likely to be liquidated when the employers drive for profits once again accelerated, but this process would take a long time, and convincing the workers of a threat that could take one or more generations to manifest proved futile.[7]

The Hammond Lumber Company of Eureka offered another, less altruistic, but similarly effective answer to the IWW. HLC began the experiment in 1913 by establishing a production bonus system, whereby workers in various departments within the company would be paid an additional fee, instead of an hourly wage, for meeting or beating a production quota.[8] The bonus was paid to the entire department and the system had the advantage of both increasing production and undermining class solidarity. Over time, employers expanded and developed the concept to the point where entire logging and milling operations could be contracted out to subcontractors.[9] Under this model, a contract logging or “gyppo” logging company would competitively bid against other similar firms to take an area of standing timber and de­liver saw logs to a mill. Work was paid by the board foot, not by the hour, thus creating an incentive for lumber workers to compete with their fellows in cutthroat competition rather than build class solidarity.[10] The employers made little secret of the fact that they had created the gyppo system specifically to undermine unionism, in particular the IWW.[11] By 1919, Weyerhaeuser had a highly developed gyppo system in place in mills and logging camps in Idaho involving over 4,000 workers.[12] Again, the IWW recognized this as a direct attack on their organization, and was already taking steps to counteract it when unexpected turns of history thwarted their progress still further.[13]

The Russian Revolution of 1917 had brought about the ascendency of Bolshevism, and though the IWW was neither affiliated with nor completely politically aligned with the Communism of the Third International, the latter nevertheless dictated events which affected the Wobblies. Already IWW members had faced repression from the bosses, been sentenced to prison terms or execution by judges ruling in favor of trumped up charges of “Criminal Syndicalism”, or even murder by vigilantes. After World War I, using the pretext of the “threat” of the spread of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the US, Attorney General A. Mitchel Palmer conducted a reign of terror against domestic radicals known as the “red scare”. Palmer established what was to become the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and carried out much of his work in close cooperation with employers and with the American Legion, which was used as a vigilante force. Palmer chose as the head of this new security agency his young, reactionary protégé, a rabid anticommunist by the name of J. Edgar Hoover. Although the FBI was advertised as a law enforcement agency, it functioned—in practice—as bulwark against anti-capitalism and popular democracy. The red scare began in 1919 and climaxed when over 10,000 American workers, aliens and citizens, most of them trade union organizers, were arrested on January 1, 1920.[14]

The IWW was the main target of these raids. The employing class was largely the power behind these waves of repression, and they successfully whipped up vigilante mob hysteria against the IWW and other radicals. One of its most bloody expressions was the Centralia Massacre, which took place on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1919. On that day, a parade of American Legion members and other so-called “patriots” held a march through town. At the parade’s conclusion the crowd stopped in front of the local IWW Hall, which it had deliberately chosen to provoke a confrontation. With their ropes ready for a lynching the mob rushed the hall and started dismantling it. Having been subjected to previous incidents of mob violence already, the IWW members this time chose to defend themselves. A firefight ensued. Several of the assailants were killed by the Wobblies in self defense as evidence later clearly demonstrated. However the mob persisted and lynched several IWW members, including World War I veteran Wesley Everest in cold blood. In what could only be called a mockery of justice, however, it was the IWW members who were convicted of murder, many of whom were given life sentences.[15]

Yet, the IWW’s decline was due as much schisms within the left as much as it was from repression from the right. The rise of Bolshevism caused division within the IWW’s ranks.[16] To some, the Soviet Union represented the “dictatorship of the proletariat” envisioned by Marx and Engels, as well as the ultimate goal of the IWW.[17] To their harshest critics, in stark contrast to the steadfastly and uncompromisingly revolutionary IWW, the Communists by contrast were opportunistic and Machiavellian to the point of making a mockery of that same vision. The debate only deepened when, in 1921, the Soviet affiliated Red Trade Union International (RTUI) invited the Wobblies to join it, but stipulated that in doing so the IWW must not interfere with the jurisdiction of other unions, including the AFL (whether or not the latter engaged collaboration with the employing class).[18]

The crux of the debate centered on strategy with ideological differences representing the less obvious underpinnings. The RTUI delegates declared specifically, “If the IWW is to be a real factor in the Labor Movement, it must change its attitude towards other Labor Unions.”[19] The Wobblies officially rejected the overtures responding that the RTUI’s demands essentially meant that “The IWW must cease to be the IWW.”[20] In spite of this, a great many rank and file members chose to follow the Communists anyway.[21] Further internal debates over the advantages of largely theatrical tactics, such as soapboxing and free speech fights versus striking on the job had raged since the events in Spokane, culminating in a devastating and complex internal split in 1924, with the splinter faction being lead by LWIU leader James Rowan among others.[22] While the IWW struggled with its identity, the Communists eclipsed them as the dominant working class political force on the left in the United States and Canada, and the Wobblies presence in the lumber camps declined.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, after over a century of their unchecked liquidation, environmentalists (all of their faults and class biases not withstanding) finally began to make inroads to the preservation of the California ancient redwoods. By 1917, almost two thirds of them had been clearcut, but since almost all of these exceptionally valuable forestlands were privately held, even the meager protections offered by the USFS didn’t apply. That year, conservationists John C. Merriam, Madison Grant, Fairfield Osborn, and Frederick Russell Burnham founded the Save the Redwoods League (STRL), and immediately initiated efforts to preserve the most scenic groves along the route which would become US Highway 101, which would open up the remote North Coast region to automobile traffic and increasingly easy transportation of the valuable trees out of the area. Their efforts were successful, and they even convinced the Pacific Lumber Company to adopt sustainable logging methods under its sympathetic president, Albert S. Murphy.[23] Over the course of the 1920s, STRL helped preserve the groves that would eventually comprise Redwood National Park north of Arcata and Humboldt Redwoods State Park between Garberville and Scotia.[24] Still, such efforts were isolated exceptions. By 1922, the other timber companies began to realize that the supply of easily accessible redwoods was rapidly declining, and so they began attempting to replant them, only to discover that this did not work. For a time, logging companies in the redwood regions switched to selective logging practices.[25] Elsewhere, however, clearcut logging on private and public lands intensified.

As they had with Spruce in 1916, the large timber companies limited their competition and kept prices artificially high by holding back timber from the market. By the late 1920s, however, due to a glut of this overstocked timber, the lumber companies faced a crisis.[26] The Great Depression hit the logging and lumber industries very hard, especially in northwestern California, where by 1931 only three mills were operating in Hum­boldt County.[27] The Lumber Trust responded to this situation by encouraging the federal government to add billions of additional board feet of “standing timber” to be added to the national forests, including as much as 150 bbf in 1933 alone, to be harvested on a sustained-yield basis. By doing so, the capitalists further limited the timber supply on the market and kept prices high for their own timber.[28] Each of these actions increased market pressures to cut more lumber more widely and rapidly. To make matters worse, new technology, specifically gasoline powered chainsaws and tractors were introduced in the early 1930s. Trees that hitherto took as much as a week to cut could now be felled within minutes. This new wave of automation brought about further liquidation of the ancient redwoods as well as a reduction in the workforce and increased exploitation of the timber workers.[29]

* * * * *

The hardship experienced by all American and European workers during the Great Depression, coupled with the apparent avoidance of such hardships in the Soviet Union sowed the seeds for a revival of rank and file workplace radicalism. The IWW had succeeded, at the very least, in introducing the concepts of industrial unionism, direct action at the point of production, and the general strike into the labor movement, and these tactics were used to great affect by left leaning dissidents within the AFL, many of whom also carried IWW cards or had done so in the past. The 1934 West Coast General Strike among the longshoremen inspired similar attempts at militant unionism among lumber workers the following year.[30] In 1935 a general strike among lumber workers took place in California, Oregon, and Washington over the issue of collective bargaining. The Great Strike, as it was called, took place from May to July and involved 22,000 workers at its height.[31]

“The Depression brought a sharp decline to the redwood lumber industry. Layoffs were common and workers suffered a 10 percent wage reduction in 1931. But by 1933 a recovery had begun in the industry, all major mills were running, and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act brought on a new tide of union organizing, stating that ‘employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively’.

“The leadership of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), facing the greatest opportunity since its inception, stood immobilized by their conservative craft union philosophy. For many years, progressive unions had argued that industry-wide organizations were the only means by which the thousands of workers in auto, steel, lumber, and other mass production industries could be organized. But the AFL leadership rejected these arguments, largely because the craft unions dominating the organization feared and distrusted the semi-skilled and unskilled workers in the major industries. When it became apparent that the progressives would split from the AFL on the issue of industry-wide organization, leadership was compelled to compromise. In the Pacific Northwest, lumber workers who previously had been rebuffed by the AFL were finally granted union charters.

“In early 1935, the local lumber and sawmill workers union formulated demands of 50 cents an hour, a 48-hour work week, and immediate union recognition. The standard work week at that time was 60 hours. A convention of the Northwest Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers met in Aberdeen, Washington and set its own demands of 75 cents an hour, a 30-hour week, overtime and holiday pay provisions, and union recognition. Furthermore, the Council voted to strike on May 6th if the demands were not met.”[32]

One of the most pitched battles in this conflict occurred in Eureka:

“On May 11th in Eureka, the members of LSW Local 2563 voted to strike in four days unless the mill operators met with their negotiating committee. Appointed ‘picket captains’ instructed all strikers to picket peacefully within bounds of the law. The companies, with the exception of the California Barrel Company, made no response to the demands of the union. On Wednesday, May 15th, Humboldt County workers joined the general strike of the west coast lumber industry.

“The Times and the Standard both carried front page editorials attacking the forthcoming strike. The Eureka Problems Committee of the Chamber of Commerce voted to establish a ‘Committee of One Thousand’ to ‘guarantee the safety of the citizens and property owners during the strike.’ This was the precursor of the Humboldt Nationals, a secret vigilante organization. By this time, the lumber companies had decided to end the strike by any means necessary. The picketing was no more than an annoyance to most of the mills, but the closure of the docks (in solidarity) by the longshoremen posed a serious economic threat. On June 14, a group of eleven men arrived in town posing as ‘G-men’—i.e., FBI agents and immigration officers, but it was rumored that they were professional thugs. The Standard reported that week that, ‘[T]he Humboldt County lumber strike is in the hands of agitators and nonresident trouble-makers. Eureka Police completed at noon today their first 24 hours of open battle against illegal picketing, intimidation and hoodlum attacks on workers of local mills.’

“On the night of June 20, Local 2563 called an emergency meeting. Albin Gruhn, a young Hammond worker at the time, attended the meeting and later recalled that the decision was made to concentrate peaceful picketing at one of the mills in an effort to shut it down completely. Very early Friday morning, June 21st, the order was given for pickets to assemble at the Holmes-Eureka gate. The stage was set…”[33]

What happened next follows the pattern of repression experienced two decades previously by the IWW and foreshadowed the events that were to take place later.[34] Onstine continues:

Pickets began arriving at the main gate shortly after 6:00 a.m. There were ap­proximately 200 strikers gathered around the en­trance to the plant, and a small crowd of spectators milled on the flat above. Some of the men pulled up rotten planks from boardwalk in front of the plant and assembled a makeshift barricade across the entrance.

“‘Special officers’ Forrest Horrell and James Jen­son were serving as watchmen at the main gate. Hor­rell later testified that one of the strikers began taunt­ing him, daring him to start something. Another, whom Horrell later identified as Eugene Miller, a strike leader, denounced him for siding with the lum­ber companies and said that he, Miller, was sorry that he had ever known Horrell. Horrell ordered Miller to get off Holmes-Eureka property and then facetiously asked the strikers if they couldn’t find anything more to drag across the gate.

“Non-striking workers began to arrive almost as soon as the pickets had gathered. Confronted with the determined picketers, most simply turned around and left.

“The police began arriving soon thereafter. Close behind them came Chief of Police George Littlefield. Several witnesses, watching from the flats above, said that when the pickets stopped Littlefield’s car he climbed out, pistol in hand, and began firing into the ground, shouting, ‘Who’s going to stop me?’

“The principal trouble, however, arose from a Packard sedan. Although the pickets were not menac­ing the police at this point, someone in the car fired a tear gas canister into the crowd. The shell made a di­rect hit on a woman picketer, Jerrine Canarri, and knocked her to the ground.”[35]

The union picket captains had tried to stand down prior to the shelling, but after being attacked, some strikers fought back and a firefight ensued. Onstine describes what happened next:

“When the tear gas finally cleared, the full extent of union casualties became obvious. William Kaarte, a 62-year-old woods cook, died instantly after he was shot in the throat. Paul Lampella, a young guy, was hit in the head. His eye popped out on his face and he was screaming bloody murder. Insane, his facial mus­cles tightly constricted by paralysis, he lived until August 7th. Harold Edlund, 35, a chopper employed by the Pacific Lumber Co., was mortally wounded in the chest while assisting Lampella. He died on the evening of June 24th. Ole Johnson was wounded in a leg which subsequently required amputation. Many others were wounded as well.

“Five police officers—Littlefield, Rutledge, French, Carroll, and Albee required medical attention for gas exposure, cuts, and concussions. All returned to duty later that morning.

“The Great Strike in Humboldt County ended on June 21st. The longshoremen went back to work on Monday, and the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union shifted its attention to providing legal aid for its members.

“Despite efforts by the police and the press, public opinion swung to the side of the strikers. Fifteen hundred members of Humboldt County labor unions were reported to have turned out for the funeral of Kaarte, the woods cook, and Assemblyman Burns led a procession in which unionists marched in a solid phalanx five blocks long followed by a hundred car loads of mourners.

“Of the lumber workers arrested, 80 men and three women were brought to preliminary hearings before the Eureka Police Court. Of the 83 strikers who had preliminary hearings, sufficient cause was found to bring 55 to trial in superior court.

“A shortage of jurors who were willing to serve plagued the prosecution from the beginning. Of the 100 jurors called for the first trial, 44 failed to show up, and a special venire of 40 had to be summoned. In light of the difficulty assembling a jury, district attorney Bradford began negotiating with the defense attorneys to drop charges against all but twelve of the defendants in exchange for consolidation of the cases.

“The jury, after deliberating more than 30 hours, was able to reach agreement on only one of the defendants, who was acquitted…The prosecution had undertaken three trials without obtaining a conviction and had seen its key witnesses completely discredited. On September 25, Bradford called it quits…

“The hysteria created by public officials and the press had contributed to the bloodshed. The Humboldt Nationals had held a special meeting at Eureka High School on the eve of the riot, presumably for a pep-talk before the expected confrontation. The situation was ripe for violence, and if the showdown had occurred late in the day when the vigilantes could have been assembled, many more people would have been hurt.

“Immediately following the trials, a curtain of silence descended on these events. The local press had no interest in analyzing the subject.”[36]

In spite of the bosses’ repression, the strike succeeded and brought with it a revival of unionism within the lumber industry, but not directly from the IWW. The Wobblies still existed, but never regained the prominence they once held two decades previously, in large part due to the dominance of Communism as a political force on the left.[37] The influence of Communism, and the vast wave of rank and file worker militancy that grew during the 1930s was significant enough to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enact various social democratic reforms, known as “The New Deal”, which—ironically enough—had some of their roots in Carleton Parker’s sociological studies of the IWW and the experiments in paternalism begun by Pacific Lumber, (even though most had their origins in the reformist economic ideas proposed by John Maynard Keynes). Additionally, in order to rein in the increasingly militant union organizing by the working class and the growing violent backlash enacted by the employers, Roosevelt signed the Wagner Act (otherwise known as the National Labor Relations Act) in 1935 thus legalizing and formalizing collective bargaining by labor unions.[38]

The New Deal split the capitalist class into liberal and conservative camps. The liberals welcomed the potential for “labor peace” that the Keynesian New Deal offered, but the conservatives decried what they described as “creeping Communism,” even though in reality the New Deal stole the Communists’ thunder, but the Keynesians ruled the day while the conservatives bided their time. The ever opportunistic Communists nevertheless assumed credit for the reforms and reinforced the idea that socialism could be brought about by incremental reform. Schisms between Communists, Socialists, and Anarchists over the Spanish Revolution of 1936 and the rise of European Fascism further strengthened the Communist’s hold on the American left. The cumulative effect of these political tides and currents was to leave many with the perception—even if debatable—that time had passed the IWW—and, by extension, syndicalism—by, and a great many of its members drifted away, and the organization, though it continued to exist, was but a shadow of its once great self.[39]

Instead, the revival of militant timber workers’ unionism was led by the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), which formed in 1937, and affiliated with the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The IWA, like the IWW, was a democratic, rank-and-file controlled union. The overwhelming majority of the elected officers in the union were radical militants (many of them former IWW organizers). Unlike the IWW, however, the CIO believed that the union should not only orient their struggle at the point of production, but that they should engage in the political arena as well—an idea the IWW rejected in 1908. The CIO, like the Communists, believed that their organization was part of a larger move­ment that would confront the criminal economy of the capitalist system.[40] While the existence of the Wagner Act and the new union federation’s pragmatic approach attracted a lot more members much more quickly than the Wobblies could ever have hoped to have done, it also created its own share of problems as well. The IWW had opposed the conservativism of the AFL, but they had never actively attempted to raid their competitors, choosing instead to allow militant AFL members to hold IWW cards simultaneously; the CIO had no such prohibitions on raiding. The AFL, who still insisted on craft unionism, excluding unskilled workers, and racist policies were suddenly faced with the very real possibility of losing their jurisdiction over their long existing strongholds. For example, many of the IWA’s rank and file members defected from the AFL’s carpenters’ union.[41] Faced with competition from this new union, the competing AFL timber unions were forced to step up their organizing, evolve, and become more like the CIO.

As a result, the unions of the AFL and CIO organized as much against each other as they did the employers, and these internecine squabbles and each federation’s lack of solidarity for the other undermined potential victories for the workers as a whole. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (UBCJ) made a concerted effort to target timber companies on the Mendocino coast from 1937 to 38, particularly the Union Lumber Company. The UBCJ succeeded in winning enough support for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, but the companies campaigned hard against the union, and the efforts were thwarted. Two years later, the International Longshoremen’s and Warehouseman’s Union (ILWU)’s Fort Bragg Local 77 attempted to secure recognition from the Caspar Lumber Company and Union Lumber—both of whom operated lumber schooners along the coast—only to have their efforts thwarted when the companies simply shut down their schooners permanently, switching to other methods of transport. The Union Lumber Company in particular was still very much hostile to unionization, and it maintained an active blacklist of union supporters.[42] These jurisdictional squabbles did coincide with a massive increase in union membership—though it’s just as likely the New Deal and Wagner Act are to credit for this—but they primarily allowed the employers to undermine working class solidarity, a fact that the still existing, but substantially diminished IWW tried desperately to point out to little avail.

To make matters worse, the CIO faced as much strife from within its ranks as it did from without. The CIO was created by a fragile alliance of its “red”, left wing (comprised primarily of Communists as well as a handful of Socialists and former Wobblies) and its “white” conservative wing (made up of liberal reformers and social democrats). The former were led by the ILWU’s Australian born Harry Bridges and the IWA’s Canadian born Harold Pritchett, both based on the west coast, whereas the latter was led largely by the CIO’s president and United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) leader John L. Lewis. Lewis’s faction believed in the AFL’s dictum of “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”, whereas the reds followed the IWW credo that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common.”[43]

Initially, both sides coexisted uneasily. The leftists who had founded the new federation were still very much under the sway of the “United Front” so naïvely championed by many Communists. Meanwhile, Lewis and the conservatives had to tolerate the presence of the left. In the CIO’s early days, the Great Depression still weighed heavy on everybody’s mind, and industrial workers were still very open to anti-capitalist perspectives. On top of that, Lewis ruefully conceded that the radicals were the best organizers he could hope to find.[44] World War II brought about an alliance between Western Capital and Soviet Communism against the Axis Powers, and for a time, the CIO was unified, but after the war this changed. During the early days of the post war boom, the truce abated, and the employers, who would ideally have chosen no union at all, still preferred the “white” to the “red” and often assisted in the conservative wing’s repeated attempts to undermine the radicals.[45]

Following World War II, however, the employers faced another crisis. The War had given returning US GIs an unprecedented degree of economic power, the war had been largely won due to the efforts of the Soviet Union’s ability to withstand Hitler’s eastward push, and many European nations that represented potential markets for the very powerful western capitalists had been liberated Communist led uprisings. The old prewar fears of the American working class organizing a revolution resurfaced with a vengeance and the employers sought to preempt such an occurrence by engaging in intense post war propaganda efforts to vilify Communism as a hostile force.[46] Such descriptions were not entirely without merit. The Soviet Government’s internal repression and the atrocities committed against their own workers, which the IWW had criticized from the left before the war had ended, now were fodder for the right.[47] Both sides in the growing cold war engaged in espionage, trickery, and subterfuge to undermine what they considered to be political threats both from outside and within. In the United States, this was manifested in the McCarthy Era which is remembered primarily as a witch hunt against leftist, and sometimes even liberal, intellectuals, many of them based in Hollywood, but this, itself is only the tip of the iceberg. In actual fact, McCarthyism was merely political theater for a much deeper and more systematic destruction of working class radicalism within the United States by the employing class and aided by the state from many directions, the most sinister being organized surveillance, disruption, and repression by the FBI under the direction of the aforementioned J. Edgar Hoover.[48]

These geopolitical struggles exacerbated the split within the CIO, and in particular they greatly weakened the IWA. Even before the war began, the same kind of tactics that were used against the IWW were again used against the IWA. The Portland Police Red Squad, and similar agencies, the Ameri­can Legion Subversive Activities Committee, and Martin Dies who chaired the House Committee on un-American Activities (HUAC), persecuted the union and its officers and used every sort of slan­der, libel, and innuendo to link them with the Communist Party. The United States Immigration Service was able, in 1940, to successfully depose IWA President Harold Pritchett of his office on a legal technicality, since he was a still Canadian citizen. These efforts had been aided and abetted by the white block within the CIO. In the years following the war, the emboldened rightist forces within the CIO and particularly the IWA engaged in countless instances of subterfuge, questionable elections, innuendo, and redbaiting. The employers were determined to prevent the solidifying of a West Coast based “red block” led by ILWU and IWA. While they failed to purge the former of its left wing, they succeeded in doing so in the latter.[49] These setbacks did not keep the IWA from organizing in the woods or the mills, but they greatly limited their power and ability to establish control by the workers over the job.

Meanwhile, Corporate Timber took advantage of the divisions within the labor movement and on the left and consolidated their control over the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The onset of World War II brought about swift changes to timber market conditions and overall production more than doubled from a low of 17 bbf in 1933 to 36 bbf in 1941. That year there were 24 sawmills in Humboldt County. During the war, the number of sawmills grew rapidly each year, and by war’s end they were producing lumber at full capacity.[50] By 1946 there were 99 mills in Humboldt County[51] and Mendocino had experienced similar growth.[52] After the war, however, production levels continued to increase to service the pent up demand for housing, due to the flush reserves of the returning GIs and the new VA mortgage programs.[53] This led to a strike wave that engulfed California’s North Coast in the three years that followed.

As a result, there was a general strike against all North Coast timber companies that took place in 1946. The workers’ demands included $1.05 hourly minimum wage, two weeks paid vacation, an end to the gyppo system, improved safety measures, company provided logging equipment, and a union shop status.[54] Many of the mills in northern California were unionized, but in many cases, the timber unions had not secured majority bargaining unit status and “union shop” clauses.[55] The employers, by contrast, remained insistent at retaining open shop status, in which not all of the workers had to join the union, but still enjoyed the benefits of a union contract without having to pay union dues. In most cases, this amounted to less than one percent of the workforce, but the unions saw it as a foot in the door for the employers to erode what the unions had gained through struggle, and historically, the bosses had always done so in time.[56] The strike lasted six months and ended in defeat, led by the Union Lumber Company.[57]

Then, in 1947, ostensibly to drive “Communism” out of the labor movement, but in actual fact to limit the unions’ power further, the US Government passed the Taft Hartley Act, prohibiting general strikes and other mass collective action, making another such strike wave legally impossible.[58] By 1948 many of the mills had shed their union contracts. In a further attempt to kick the unions while they were down, ULC commissioned the publication of an extremely biased and inaccurate history book, Memories of the Mendocino Coast, by D. W. Ryder claiming that the company had been “singularly free of labor trouble over the years,” and described the strike as “ill-advised and unnecessary.”[59] The timber unions had suffered another crushing defeat.

* * * * *

The result of all of this was that Corporate Timber’s lumber harvesting reached even more unprecedented levels, and The strike of 1946-48 temporarily halted production on the North Coast, and even then, not entirely, as small operators took advantage of the intense demand to fill the niche created by the strike.[60] The demand for wood was so great that in northwestern California, Douglas fir, which often grows near redwoods, but also grows elsewhere as a dominant species, and was hitherto overlooked as a source of high grade lumber, was now almost as much desired, and the small companies operating during the strike were able to take advantage of this change as well.[61] The small owners were, for the most part, fly-by-night operations, but at the conclusion of the strike, the large companies bought many of the mills and used them to branch out into Douglas fir production alongside Redwoods.[62]

Advances in technology made during and after World War II accelerated the liquidation of the forests of the Northwest further. By 1948, gasoline powered chainsaws and gas or diesel tractors had almost universally replaced axes and hand saws and steam driven yarders completing a second wave of automation within the timber industry enabling the rapid expansion of logging operations while at the same time reducing the workforce needed to produce the same amount of lumber.[63] By 1951, there were 262 sawmills in Humboldt County[64] and 300 in Mendocino County, at which point the number of mills began to decline.[65] Only the post World War II boom prevented a massive round of layoffs of timber workers. The Korean War brought about the peak in timber harvests on private lands in 1952, and that year timber corporations removed enough board feet from private lands in Oregon alone to house Oregon’s entire two million population and San Francisco’s 700,000 residents.[66] Many of the sawmills constructed on the North Coast were shady affairs, lasting no more than ten to twenty years at most, ultimately resulting in the consolidation of timber holdings into the hands of a few corporations, particularly ULC in Mendocino County and Pacific Lumber in Humboldt County.[67] In Humboldt County in 1956 the number of sawmills in Humboldt County dropped to 214. That number decreased yearly so that by 1960 there were 134.[68]

The workforce’s decline had been brought on largely by automation which began with the widespread deployment of chainsaws and gasoline powered tractors, but was greatly accelerated by far more significant changes in transportation patterns. In the 1950s, the United States underwent a massive wave of automobilization, facilitated by the systematic gutting of intracity and interstate public transit systems and the creation of the new Interstate Highway system in 1956. This expansion was driven by probable collusion between the government, and the oil, automobile, tire, and rubber corporations who desired a monopoly on transportation. This process affected all sectors of the US economy, bringing about unprecedented capital expansion, including within the lumber and paper industries.[69] Logs that were once loaded onto train cars were now loaded onto log trucks which could operate on roads which were much easier to construct into deep forest lands.[70] Local milling oper­ations were geared for larger di­ameter logs, and smaller diameter logs were considered undesir­able. For some hardwoods, such as Madrone, tanoak, pepper­wood, there was no domestic market, but foreign markets appeared. In the 1950’s the balance of mill ownership along California’s North Coast shifted from locally owned to “out of area” firms who bought up mills and timber.[71] At this point, timber harvests on private land began to diminish, but capital’s economic imperative to continue their harvests unabated created increasing pressure to log public lands. [72]

The timber unions’ presence on the North Coast was largely inert. The IWA grew throughout the Pacific Northwest, primarily due to the growth of the population there and the post war boom, but they made no advances whatsoever against the increasing use of gyppo logging operations and made few gains in advancing the power of the workers. Through the process of collective bargaining, increasingly conservative, “business” unions, including the IWA, traded workers’ rights over any say in pro­duction for the sake of better wages and benefits.[73] Dissent within the ranks of the labor movement had been effectively marginalized. For the most part, other than occasional pockets of rebellion, it had become a conservative, and in some cases, even reactionary force. With rare exception, the AFL-CIO could be reliably counted upon to support the overall goals of the capitalist class. To resist or question this even mildly was to be automatically branded “un-American” or “Communist”, and in those days such was tantamount to political suicide. Indeed, leftist political activity of any sort was quickly dismissed by the powers that be and their followers as being controlled from Moscow, and protesters were often greeted with the admonishment from counterdemonstrators—including many gullible rank and file union members—to “Go (back) to Russia!”

By the mid 1950s, both the AFL and CIO were virtually indistinguishable from each other, and on February 9, 1955, they merged into a single union federation, the AFL-CIO.[74] Meanwhile, the Wobblies experienced their ultimate nadir after losing jurisdiction over its Cleveland metal workers’ industrial union after the IWW’s General Executive Board refused to honor the Taft-Hartley anti-communist stipulations. The IWW would begin to grow again in the following decades, but by now their membership (which had peaked in the 100,000s in 1936) reached its lowest ebb and numbered in the low hundreds.[75]

* * * * *

Meanwhile environmental movement grew and, in matters of populist efforts to rein in the power of corporate resource extraction of public lands and privately owned wilderness areas, filled the political void left by the lack of an adversarial labor union. Although the Sierra Club had originally attracted mostly wealthy Republicans, the conservation minded aspects of the New Deal had brought a good many Roosevelt Democrats into the organization. Following World War II, four members in particular who helped expand the Sierra Club’s horizons from merely protecting a handful of ecological jewels for the enjoyment of the wealthy, white elite, into a populist advocacy group seeking to influence matters of national environmental policy. These were attorneys Richard Leonard and Bester Robinson, photographer Ansel Adams, and a young idealist named David Brower.[76] By 1950, the organization numbered 7,000 and the vast majority of them were based on the Pacific Coast, but that year a huge influx of members joined from the Atlantic Coast region, and the organization evolved from an ephemeral volunteer organization to one with a board of directors. The membership elected Brower to serve as its first director, under the organization’s new, formalized structure.[77]

Under Brower’s leadership, the Sierra Club solidified its reputation as a scrappy fighting national environmental group, taking its place among other already existing, but more conservative organizations such as the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and the Wilderness Society. The Sierra Club led the battle against the construction of the Echo Dam in Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument, and succeeded in having it deleted from the Colorado River project in 1955. The victory resulted in the growth of the organization’s membership from 10,000 that year to 15,000 in 1960. In 1964, thanks the Club’s efforts, the US Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, which created the National Wilderness Preservation System. The initial statutory wilderness areas, designated in the Act, comprised 9.1 million acres (37,000 km²) of national forest wilderness areas in the United States of America previously protected by administrative orders, and for the first time since the days of Gifford Pinchot, theoretically placed limitations on encroachment on public lands by private logging interests.[78]

The Sierra Club also successfully thwarted attempts by the Bureau of Reclamation from building two dams in the Grand Canyon that would have flooded it. The organization ran ads in the New York Times and Washington Post in 1966 against the dams, which drew protests to congress from individuals (influenced by the private interests who stood to profit from the proposed dams) that such actions violated the terms of 501c(3) nonprofit organizations. An IRS crackdown on the Club ultimately resulted in the suspension of its 501c(3) status, but it anticipated such an event by spinning off a 501c(3) Sierra Club Foundation for endowments and fundraising for educational and non-lobbying purposes in 1960. The organization transitioned to a 501c(4) nonprofit which allowed for the activity that 501c(3) did not, but in spite of these precautions, contributions to the Sierra Club began to decline, resulting in increased operating deficits.[79]

The Sierra Club survived the setback and its membership grew in spite of the lesser contributions, but internal schisms began to divide and undermine its ability to challenge private encroachment onto publicly owned wilderness areas. Financial challenges sowed divisions between Brower and the board of directors in 1967-68. These divisions fed into a further split when the board voted to endorse the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s construction of a nuclear fission power plant at Diablo Canyon in southern California near San Luis Obispo. The board’s decision was endorsed by a referendum of the general membership in 1967. The Club had successfully fought against the construction of a similar plant by PG&E proposed for Bodega Bay near Point Reyes in western Marin County in the early 1960s, and the power company’s fallback proposal was, at least, seen by most of the members as a partial victory. To Brower, however, this moved the Sierra Club away from the vision of John Muir and instead in the direction of Gifford Pinchot.[80] Brower publically declared his opposition to the compromise, saying, “…compromise is often necessary but it ought not to originate with the Sierra Club. We are to hold first to what we believe is right, fight for it, and find allies…If we cannot find enough vigor in us or them to win, then let someone else propose the compromise.”[81] However in doing so he raised further controversy because—though his action may have been principled on environmental grounds was nevertheless a violation of the Sierra Club’s democratic structure. Two successive board elections resulted first in a pro-Brower majority followed by an anti-Brower majority, the latter of which, led by Brower’s one time friends Adams and Leonard, charged him with financial recklessness and insubordination. Brower resigned from the Sierra Club in mid 1969.[82]

Due to such machinations, the Sierra Club was limited in its ability to address the increasing threat to the California Redwoods, though members of the organization were active in supporting the efforts of others to do so. For a time, chief among these was the Save the Redwoods League who had preserved as many as 1000 smaller old growth Redwood Groves in thirty of California’s state parks. STRL, the Sierra Club and the National Geographic Society lobbied for the formation of Redwood National Park from the existing smaller groves preserved from STRL’s earlier efforts in the state park system in northern Humboldt County for years, but were unable to do so due to the post war boom. After almost two decades of advocacy by the League and intense lobbying of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson finally signed the bill creating Redwood National Park on October 2, 1968.[83] Although this was a significant victory, the fate of the redwoods—indeed the entirety of what remained of the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, not to mention the timber workers—hung by a thread.

* * * * *

As the 1960s came to a close, several currents began to coalesce which portended what would be the four decades long conflict over the last remaining ancient redwoods of northwestern California. To begin with, in 1968, the US Forest Service conducted a survey of logging and found that in Humboldt County alone, the rate of cutting exceeded growth by 270 percent. The situation in Mendocino was no less stark.[84] To make matters worse, with the sale of the Union Lumber Company to Boise-Cascade (B-C) in 1969, all but one of the major timber companies on the North Coast (Pacific Lumber), were owned by outside corporations. The only consolation of that development was that B-C was so egregious in its treatment of the workers that it resulted in the unionization of several of its mills in the area.[85] Annual harvests of national forest timber had risen from three bbf in 1945 to 13 bbf in 1970. That year a Nixon administration task force, bowing to pressures from industry, had declared that, “A goal of about seven billion board foot annual increase in timber harvest from the national forests by 1978 is believed to be attainable and consistent with other objectives of forest management.”[86] The economic pressures to log the forests elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest would have a residual effect on the North Coast’s forests. Under such market conditions, Corporate Timber’s bottom line required an average of 40-year rotations on their managed forests. This presented a substantial problem on the North Coast, because redwoods required at bare minimum 50 to 60 years to reach maturity, with 80-year rotations being the most desirable low end.[87]

These stark realities were alarming enough to convince the majority of the California state legislature to pass the Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act in 1973, which essentially called for sustained yield forestry, and attempted to reform the regulation of forestlands.[88] The act established the Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) and a politically-appointed California Board of Forestry (BOF) to oversee their implementation, and placed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) in charge of enforcing its directives. It further required that before any logging took place, whether on public or private land, a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) retained by the logging concern, must prepare a document which outlined the proposed logging operations, known as a Timber Harvest Plan (THP), and submit this to the state. These documents were certified as the ‘functional equivalent’ of an Environmental Impact Report, and were supposed to evaluate all of the potential direct and cumulative impacts that might occur as a result of the logging plan and to implement any feasible measures which would reduce this impact to a level of insignificance.”[89] This law was groundbreaking and had the potential to establish public control over the fate of the state’s forests, but there was one glaring problem in its implementation. There were no specific provisions in the law preventing the elected governor of California from appointing agents of the timber corporations to populate the board, and upon the law’s passage, Ronald Reagan, then-Governor of California and friend to corporate interests, proceeded to do exactly that.[90]

Hitherto, there had been little direct conflict between timber workers and environmentalists as the depletion of the forests had not yet reached crisis proportions, and environmentalists invested their energy into legal, legislative, and electoral efforts, but in the 1970s, this began to change. The timber corporations exercised their considerable political clout to manipulate the workers into believing that the environmentalists were their enemies.[91] In 1972, in northwestern California in northern Humboldt County, a drive to expand Redwood National Park, led by Save the Redwoods League (SRL) in 1972, was answered with resistance from loggers, millworkers, and log truck drivers, including some who belonged to various unions. The latter, who had been manipulated by the timber companies into believing that the parks expansion would result in a loss in timber jobs, organized a caravan to Washington DC to oppose the expansion.[92] That same year, B-C suffered financial difficulties and subsequently their California holdings were purchased by Georgia-Pacific (G-P) in 1973, in a hostile takeover. B-C filed a successful anti-trust suit against G-P, which had to spin off another company (which became Louisiana-Pacific) to comply with the terms.[93]

G-P’s logging practices elsewhere had been anything but conservation minded in the eyes of most environmentalists and there was little expectation that their practices on the North Coast would be any different. When it divided the lands it acquired from B-C in the creation of Louisiana-Pacific (L-P), G-P retained the coastal holdings and the new company retained the forestlands that lay inland. One such area acquired by G-P was the remote “Lost Coast” area of northwestern Mendocino and southwestern Humboldt Counties, sometimes referred to as the “Mateel” in reference to the Mattole and Eel River watersheds, which had once been home to the Sinkyone Indian tribe and where a great many first-generation “back-to-the-land” types now made their home. Over the course of the next decade, environmentalists and the rapidly declining timber workers’ unions would clash over the ongoing fight to save the Sinkyone Wilderness.[94]

Had the unions retained any of their anti-capitalist militancy they might not have been so easily manipulated by Corporate Timber, but during the1970s, when environmental and economic interests clashed, which was happening increasingly often, they usually took the side of their employers. For the most part, the class collaborationist business union leadership considered the environment a nonissue. There had been a few exceptions, such as the Green Bans at Kelly’s Bush in Australia in 1971, the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers strike at Shell in 1973, or the Lucas Aerospace workers strike in the UK in 1976, and most of these struggles were led by socialist leaning insurgents within the larger union structure, which were quickly quashed.[95] For the most part, the AFL-CIO’s attitude towards such things could best be summarized by a bumper sticker frequently seen on the vehicles of its members that read, “Pollution, Love it or Leave it!”[96]

Corporate Timber pitted North Coast environmentalists and the timber workers’ unions against each other once again in 1978. In a further attempt to protect Redwood National Park from the consequences of logging in nearby national forests under increasing pressures from the timber industry, the federal government purchased 10,000 acres of old growth and an additional 38,000 acres of heavily eroded lands from Louisiana-Pacific and Simpson Timber companies. Save the Redwoods League led the efforts. The companies claimed that jobs—in this case as many as 6,000, the two companies’ entire workforce in the county—would be lost. The unions and environmentalists fought against each other, but in actual fact, the timber corporations were engaging in a smokescreen. One year after the RNP expansion, there was not an appreciable reduction in timber jobs at all. The workforce did decline to 5,700 in 1983, and L-P and Simpson blamed this loss directly on the expansion of the park, an explanation many timber workers accepted unquestioningly. A reduction from 6,000 to 5,700 was hardly significant, but the timber companies nevertheless used this as “evidence” to demonstrate that environmentalists posed the principle threat to timber workers’ job security.[97]

The primary motivation for Corporate Timber’s propagandizing was largely due to the fact that it was their own practices which represented the biggest threat to job security. In 1977 the U.S. Forest Service predicted a 67 percent decline in timber jobs by 1985 due to the decline of timber resources. Between 1968-78, jobs in Humboldt County in timber fell from over 11,000 in 1968 to 6,175 in 1978 due to primarily to mechanization, log exports, and overcutting.[98] Likewise, in Mendocino County, timber related jobs declined from a high of 36 percent of the workforce in 1970 to 12 percent by 1988.[99] Processing one million board feet (1 mmbf) of lumber required 11 timber workers in 1947, but only seven by 1975 and a mere three workers by 1985 due to automation. The Simpson Pulp Mill at Smith River required just 1.6 workers per million board feet in 1977. These numbers don’t reflect the fact that two indirect jobs—such as teachers, food service workers, grocery clerks, office jobs, and the like—were lost for each direct job in the forest products industry in timber dependent communities.[100] Numerous studies, including those carried out by the USFS suggested that by 1990, timber production in northwestern California could decline anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, and remain at this level for at least 10 to 15 more years afterwards.[101] These were dire predictions indeed, and they would only get worse.

In addition to overharvesting the forests and subjugating the timber workers, in their ever increasing greed Corporate Timber also quite literally poisoned the water, earth, and air in and around the forests. As the United States military had done in its counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam, timber companies used chemical defoliants, including sometimes even Agent Orange, to clear out the underbrush and understory hardwood trees that sometimes grew there. Through these methods, Corporate Timber hoped to facilitate even more rapid clearcutting as well as conversion of diverse forest habitats into monoculture tree plantations. The timber bosses saw no value in the hardwood species they sought to eliminate, though the offending trees could have been a boon to both timber workers and the environment had they been selectively logged—thus providing ample room for the conifers to flourish and be harvested later—and used to make wood flooring or furniture locally.[102] These ideas, however, were inconsistent with the increasingly profit-oriented timber harvesting techniques now in place.

Such practices had already drawn widespread opposition from the burgeoning environmental movements coalescing along California’s North Coast, which included no small number of antiwar activists, disillusioned veterans, back-to-the-landers, and indigenous people, all of whom shuddered at the implications of private industry duplicating the scorched earth policies that had leveled the jungles of Southeast Asia. In the words of one such activist:

Not only has the North Coast timber industry historically placed tremendous over­cutting pressure on the forests, it is now increasing that pressure with renewed large scale clearcutting forest management. Chemicals severely toxic to forests, fisheries, wildlife and people are being recklessly used to poison na­ture’s efforts to heal clearcut scars with non-com­mercial soil-retaining and forest-regenerating plants. By eliminating human care in favor of economic poisons, short-term corporate profits are in­creased while long-term damage is ensured.”[103]

Resistance on the North Coast to spraying began in Mendocino County in 1973, when Betty Lou Whaley of Caspar, California raised con­cerns about blackberries she ate that had been sprayed with the herbicide amino-triazole. Mendocino County officials, the majority of whom were beholden to business interests, told Whaley that the spraying was legal and non-toxic, but these claims were later shown to be lies. This led to a county-wide, mass based revolt against herbicide and pesticide spraying.[104]

In Humboldt County, similar citizen opposition led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) in 1976.[105] In 1978 timber companies, including G-P and L-P, began using helicopters to spray toxic herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T on their holdings.[106] Combined together, the two chemicals make Agent Orange, the infamous defoliant that was used by the US military in Vietnam.[107] The chemicals were known to cause cancer and birth defects, and their use had already been banned on federally owned lands. In 1979, by a 2-1 margin, Mendocino County voters adopt a ban on the aerial application of all phenoxy herbicides. The timber companies halted their aerial spray­ing while they appealed the law.[108]

The environmentalist led populist revolt was enough to even get the Mendocino and Humboldt County IWA locals to question the “Pollution, love it or leave it” stance. Local 3-98 representative Tim Skaggs noted that clearcutting—which he opposed—was directly related to the use of herbicides. Both practices were capital intensive—thus harmful to the workers—and environmentally short sighted, but there was little they could do to resist due to the dominance of the gyppos.[109] For example, in 1979, G-P actually sprayed Agent Orange in the Usal forest stand in the southern tip of what is now the Sinkyone Wilderness area. The union protested the spray. G-P hook tender Wayne Thorstrom, a vocal opponent of the practice and IWA shop steward, met with company spokesman James Coons and informed the latter that the loggers refused to work in the affected areas. The chemical’s flashpoint was too dangerous, and it persisted for years, saturating the trees or their roots. A freak forest fire could not only result in the exposure of loggers to toxic chemicals, it could claim their lives. G-P ostensibly agreed to halt the aerial application of Agent Orange due to the union’s opposition, but the company was insistent on capital intensive chemical applications, so they proposed as an alternative drilling holes into the offending hardwoods and injecting them with Garlon. The IWA was no more agreeable to this for both reasons of job security and environmental concerns, and Thorstrom relayed this to Coons. The G-P spokesman responded, “Fine; we’ll get someone else to do it.”[110]

The timber companies, as one might expect, denied that the chemicals 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T had adverse effects, unless combined to make Agent Orange. That same year, however, Marla Gillham conducted a study of thirty forestry workers planting an area that had been sprayed with Krenite, 2,4-D, and Silvex almost one year be­fore plant­ing began. She discovered that one worker, after spending only four hours at the site, experienced severe reactions to chemicals. A blood test revealed that the worker had absorbed 5.5 parts per billion (ppb) of Silvex and over 4 ppb of Krenite. Seventeen other workers also experienced nausea, headaches, bloody noses, and nervous system dysfunctions after only a few days at the site.[111] Meanwhile, Swedish epidemiologists established that workers exposed to 2,4,5-T were 6-8 times more likely to develop sarcomas. It was assumed that this was because of the dioxin TCDD, which is a potent carcinogen and a contaminant of 2,4,5-T. However, further studies showed that workers exposed only to 2,4-D (and other phenoxy herbicides which do not contain the dioxin TCDD) had a 4.2 times nor­mal risk of de­veloping a sarcoma. 2,4-D turned out to be about as dangerous as 2,4,5-T. In 1980 the Hazard Alert System of the State of California Department of Health Services published an evaluation of the human health hazards of 2,4-D. They were apparently not aware of the Swedish study on that chemical, but even without this informa­tion they urged strong precautions in its usage. Over the course of the next several years, incidents at Times Beach, Massachusetts; Love Canal, New York; Newark, New Jersey; and the settlement of court cases brought by men exposed to 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T in Viet Nam bolstered the cases against both chemicals. In 1983, the EPA banned 2,4,5-T outright, and many argued that 2,4-D should be as well.[112]

There were plenty of supporting accounts by timber workers exposed to herbicides. In 1980, Rich Overholt who was a USFS employee working in the Six Rivers National Forest of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties, and whose duties included manually applying herbicides, accidentally squirted a few drops of 2,4-D to his face, while working on difficult terrain. When he had taken the job, he had been told that “2,4-D was not dangerous.” His supervisor, he recalled, informed him that “he would have to drink a whole quart or gallon of the stuff” before experiencing any adverse effects. Overholt took his supervisor at his word and, like many of his fellow workers, took few—if any—precautions. He would routinely, inadvertently expose his entire body to the chemicals, and though the effects were not detectable then, after accidentally spraying himself in the face directly, he suffered an immediate toxic reaction. The combined consequences of his exposure turned out to be a permanently damaged nervous system.[113]

In 1981, 32-old Jack Duncan, who was employed by the BLM as a tree planter and had worked in that capacity for seven years, and his crew were working near Conley Creek in Oregon when a helicopter began spraying herbicides in an adjacent stand. According to Duncan, in a sworn affidavit taken November 11, 1981:

(spray from the helicopter) drifted over us and upon us…All ten of us were exposed to the herbicide—upon our clothes, skin…and we all inhaled the mist…All of my crew and my­self experienced acute symptoms of burning eyes and throat, headache, dizziness, nausea and diarr­hea. All have suffered from peripheral neu­ropathy (loss of feel­ing in fin­gers and toes) since the exposure.”[114]

Two wives of the exposed workers became pregnant after their husbands’ ex­posure, and both of them miscar­ried. Tree planters hired in northwestern California and Oregon continued to be subjected to nearby helicopter spraying by the timber corporations. The workers were never given a chemical history nor were they warned if chemical residues still persisted at the site. The lack of informa­tion kept labor cheap and plentiful, and those working in the forests disorganized—at great cost to their health and safety.[115] Matters were about to worsen significantly.

* * * * *

The election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980 signaled the end of New Deal social democratic policies and a return to pre-Depression era laissez-faire capitalism resulting in greatly accelerated harvesting of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. It also heralded the end of the so-called “labor-management partnership” championed by the AFL-CIO as the employing class began to drive wages downward and cut benefits in order to maximize their profits. The AFL-CIO, including the timber workers unions, were powerless to stop this renewed assault on their standard of living. By 1980, the IWA represented 115,000 members, 32,000 of whom lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest in logging, sawmills, plywood mills, and the like.[116] But most of the logging was now done by gyppos, which undermined the unions’ ability to mount a counterattack to employers. Even many of the Gyppos recognized this as a glaring problem.[117]

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the environmental movement expanded dramatically due to the growing concerns over the rapidly disappearing forests, and was reinforced by scientific discoveries concerning old growth. A groundbreaking report, Ecological Characteristics of the Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Forests, authored in 1981 by US Forest Service ecologist Jerry Franklin showed that old growth forests represented, “ by far the richest and most ecologically complex stage in the forest’s existence, supporting an as-yet uncataloged diversity of life forms, many of which (were) now endangered as a result of forest fragmentation and destruction of critical habitat.”[118] In particular, ancient redwood forests created their own microclimate, combing the Pacific Coast fog with their needles, literally drinking the moisture out of the condensation. Excess moisture dripped to the ground providing an essential source of water for dense understory plant species, such as long living ferns and horsetails (many of which, like the ancient redwoods, had existed for hundreds of millions of years unchanged by evolution of other species during that time), red­wood sorrel, bleeding hearty blue iris, yellow vio­let, and wild ginger, as well as many rare animal species.[119] Old growth redwood forests also provided essential habitat for many species of fish by providing a stable environment for costal freshwater streams.[120] Even forest fires and the decay of ancient trees—those that the timber corporations described as “diseased, dying, or dead” needing to be removed to allow their replacement by younger trees—contributed to the living biomass through the decay of woody debris.[121]

The timber industry saw little difference between an old growth forest, second and later growth forests, and tree farms, however, except in the quality of timber available, and to those whose primary—and often only—concern was the bottom line, ancient forests represented the best available source of profitable timber. Most of the forests of the Pacific Northwest were not healthy old growth, however, but instead were either managed plantations, which had a very low survivability rate, or they were second or third growth, which offered substantially lesser quality timber. In Mendocino County, much of the logging being done by the 1980s was akin to scavenging. Loggers were routinely reclogging forest stands that had previously been logged once or even twice before.[122] Biologists compared the Northwest forests to a piece of cloth perforated repeatedly, to the point that there were more holes than cloth. According to data compiled by satellite photos comparing the Pacific Northwest to the threatened Amazon rainforests, released in 1992 by NASA scientist Dr. Compton J. Tucker, conditions in the northwest were as bad, if not worse than those in the tropics.[123] According estimates made by Peter Morrison of the Wilderness Society in 1989, about 800,000 acres of the remaining intact old-growth forest were protected in parks and wilderness areas. The other 1.6 million acres—more than half of which were highly fragmented—were open to exploitation. In the 1980s, these stands of old-growth forest were disappearing at a rate of as much as 70,000 acres a year. At that rate, the unprotected old-growth forests of Oregon and Washington would be gone before 2020, and California wouldn’t be far behind.[124]

The depletion of these forests had implications beyond the mere loss of biodiversity, runoff, and the viability of riparian environments. The earth’s very climate is biologically regulated. Forests moderated far more than local microclimate and the hydrological cycles of local watersheds. Forests also affect the overall surface temperature of the earth and the thickness of the ozone layer through nitrous oxide production. Through their carbon cycle, healthy forests convert vast amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO­2) into breathable oxygen (O­2). Healthy old growth forests are—quite literally—the lungs of our planet. Managed even-age tree plantations are no substitute for ancient forests in this respect. If anything, the latter cannot survive under conditions created by the loss of the former. Atmospheric CO­2 has increased by at least 22 percent since 1840, and though these days the primary source of it is carbon emissions from combustion engines and electric power generation, until 1960, the majority of it had been emitted due to deforestation and soil degradation. Organic, carbon-bearing compounds decay in clearcut forests, over ploughed farmlands, and freshly cleared fields, releasing CO­2 into the atmosphere removing precious O­2 from the air we breathe.[125] Throughout Europe, which has a longer history of industrial forestry, than the United States, managed tree plantations have proven unable to survive beyond three rotations without old growth forests nearby to provide biological diversity and other protecting factors, and even those near ancient forests do not fare well.[126] 52 percent of the forests of eastern Germany were dead or dying by the 1980s. As of late 1985, 17.5 million acres of forests in 15 European nations had been affected by “Waldsterben” (forest death).[127]

There was every indication that the North Coast timber corporations, primarily G-P, L-P, and Simpson, would deny that they were enabling the forests’ destruction as much as they tried to deny that aerially deployed herbicides were harmful to the workers. As proof they could cite the fact that most THPs reviewed by the CDF under the decade-old Z’berg Nejedly act had been approved. Environmentalists countered that the approval process was little more than a rubber stamp under the lax guidelines established by the pro-Corporate Timber dominated BOF. Then, in 1983, after a battle between the environmentalists and G-P over the Sinkyone that had lasted almost as long as the existence of Z’berg Nejedly, the environmentalists won a landmark legal ruling that at long last reversed years of precedent that had established the right of private logging interests to dictate forest policy and place profit considerations ahead of environmental concerns.

The fight had been led chiefly by Robert Sutherland (known to his associates as “The Man Who Walks in the Woods”, or simply “Woods” for short) and Cecilia Gregori (nee Lanman) of EPIC. Woods had been an environmental activist since 1964 and had worked on many issues, but forestry consumed his efforts more than just about anything else. On this particular subject, he once opined:

“The rush to get the old growth has been the last great buffalo hunt, the last passenger pigeon slaughter. We’ve reached the end of the Western frontier, but the traditions of the frontier die hard. It is time to rein in the passions. Mark my words, our culture us on the threshold of what is for the most of us a long-lost frontier, the inner one.”[128]

Gergori had previously been a boycott organizer for the United Farmworkers Union before becoming involved in EPIC with whom she fought many legal battles with Corporate Timber. Her quiet yet stern resolve earned her the nickname “The Velvet Hammer,” and she lived up to the moniker. On one occasion in the early part of the 1980s, Georgia Pacific had declared that a specific THP near Dark Gulch within the Sinkyone had been selectively logged, but on an inspection tour hosted by one of their RFPs, Jere Melo, Gregori noticed that not only had the company lied, they had also violated the boundaries of the THP, clearcutting all the way to the coastline. Gregori pointed this out only to be answered by Melo’s derisive and callous laughter, to which, in response, she declared right to his face, “You’re pure slime.”[129] However EPIC would have the last laugh. In 1983, in a landmark ruling that challenged the CDF’s approval of a G-P THP that threatened to clearcut the Sally Bell Grove, a judge ruled that:

“Cumulative impacts must be considered by the California Department of Forestry (CDF) in their review of timber harvesting plans (THPs). Full compliance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) procedures is required in agency review of THPs. Also, the Native American Heritage Commission must be consulted if there is evidence of Native American historical sites within the THP.”[130]

The ruling known as, EPIC vs. Johnson, was unprecedented, and it finally gave public an effective legal tool to challenge capitalist timber directly for the first time in history. The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous, because Corporate Timber was preparing to engage in its most deadly assault on the forests and the workers of the Pacific Northwest ever seen.

[1] Rowan, James: The IWW in the Lumber Industry, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1922.

[2] Article by A. E. Blockinger, Pioneer Western Lumberman, #56, July 15, 1911, quoted in Cornford, op. cit.

[3] Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Session, Pacific Logging Conference, 1912, page 5.

[4] Parker, Carlton H., The Casual Laborer and Other Essays, New York, NY, Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, inc., 1920.

[5] Brissenden, Paul F., The IWW: A Study in American Syndicalism, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, Russell & Russell, Inc., (Second Edition), 1957. Brissenden’s study is surprisingly sympathetic to the IWW.

[6] Woirol, Gregory, In the Floating Army: F.C. Mills on Itinerant Life in California, 1914, Urbana, IL, University of Illinois Press, 1992.

[7] Tyler, Robert, Rebels of the Woods: The IWW in the Pacific Northwest, Eugene, University of Oregon Books, 1967, pages 85-111.

[8] Cornford, Daniel, Workers and Dissent in the Redwood Empire, Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press, © 1987, pages 193-199.

[9] Kennedy, James, The Lumber Industry and its Workers, Second Edition, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1922.

[10] “Kenneth O. Smith and Walter Smith: Gyppo Partners, Pacific Coast Timber Harvesting”, Interviewed by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, Issue #21, June 1987. The term “gyppo” unfortunately has its origins in the word “gypsy”, including the latter’s racist overtones. It no doubt derives from the tendencies of these contract logging firms to move from job to job. In spite of the less than appropriate origins of the term, it was widely used even in Judi Bari’s time.

[11] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, leaflet by the IWW’s Lumber Workers Industrial Union 120, ca. 1927.

[12] Todes, Charlotte, Labor and Lumber, New York, NY, International Publishers, © 1931, pages 163-64.

[13] Kennedy, op. cit.

[14] “The IWW and the IWA: The Struggle for Radical Unionism in the Northwest”, by Troy Laried Garner, Ecology Center Newsletter, September 1990.

[15] Chaplin, Ralph, The Centralia Conspiracy, Chicago, IL, Charles H. Kerr & Co, 1919

[16] Thompson, Fred, and Jon Bekken, The Industrial Workers of the World: It’s First 100 Years, 1905-2005, Cincinnati, OH, Industrial Workers of the World, © 2006, pages 1-16.

[17] Scribbner, Tom, Lumberjack,1966.

[18] Latchem, E. W., et. al, The IWW Reply to the Red Trade Union International, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, November 15, 1922.

[19] “To the I.W.W., A Special Message from the Communist International”, by Guido Baracchi and Percy Laidler, Proletarian Publishing Association, Melbourne, 1920.

[20] Latchem, E. W., et. al, The IWW Reply to the Red Trade Union International, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, November 15, 1922.

[21] See for example, “The IWW”, by James Cannon, Fourth International, Summer 1955; De Caux, Len, The Living Spirit of the Wobblies, New York, NY, International Publishers, 1978; Gurley-Flynn, Elizabeth, The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1905-1926), New York, NY, International Publishers, 1955; and Scribbner, Tom, Lumberjack, unpublished manuscript, 1966, available at this site. These publications are biased from a Stalinist (or Stalinist-turned-Trotskyist) perspective, but they are examples of many personal accounts of IWW members having left the organization for what they thought was a more stable and viable tendency in Communism. Ironically the course of history has proven them wrong, but not in their lifetimes.

[22] Thomspon and Bekken, op. cit., pages 1-16


[24] Schrepfer, Susan R., The Fight to Save the Redwoods: A History of Environmental Reform, 1917-1978. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983, page 130–85.

[25] “Redwood Summer, an Issues Primer”, by Bill Meyers, Ideas & Action, Fall 1990.

[26] Foster, John Bellamy, The Limits of Environmentalism Without Class: Lessons from the Ancient Forest Struggle of the Pacific Northwest, New York, NY, Monthly Review Press (Capitalism, Nature, Socialism series), 1993, “Part 3 – Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest”.

[27] Howard Brett Melendy, “100 Years of Redwood Lumber Indus­try”, unpub­lished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, 1952), 208.

[28] Foster, op. cit., “Part 3 – Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest”.

[29] Meyers, op. cit.

[30] Lembcke, Jerry and William Tattam, One Union in Wood, A Political History of the International Woodworkers of America, New York, NY, International Publishers, 1984.

[31] The Great Lumber Strike of Humboldt County, 1935 by Frank Onstine, portions of which were reprinted in the Country Activist, September 1985.

[32] Onstine, op. cit..

[33] Onstine, op. cit..

[34] “The Public Outlaw Show: Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport”, Dave Chism and Bob Cramer, interviewed by Dan Fortson on KMUD FM, November 27, 1997.

[35] Onstine, op. cit..

[36] Onstine, op. cit..

[37] Lembcke and Tattam, op. cit., pages 30-42.

[38] Thomspon and Bekken, op. cit., pages 1-16

[39] Thomspon and Bekken, op. cit., pages 1-16

[40] Garner, op. cit.

[41] Lembcke and Tattam, op. cit., pages 54-58.

[42] “Chronology of California North Coast Timber Industry Activity 1767-1988”, by R. Bartley and S. Yoneda, Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 25 and August 1, 1990.

[43] Garner, op. cit.

[44] Lembcke and Tattam, op. cit., page 79.

[45] Garner, op. cit.

[46] Boyer, Richard O, and Herbert M. Morais, Labor’s Untold Story, Pittsburgh, PA, United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, third edition, 1997, pages 329-70.

[47] “Chicago Replies to Moscow”, editorial, Industrial Worker, January 27, 1945.

[48] “Stop FBI Repression!: The Historical Context to Recent Bomb Charges Against California Earth First! Activists, by Michael Robinson and Jim Vander Wall” Industrial Worker, July 1990.

[49] Garner, op. cit.

[50] Butler, op. cit.

[51] “A Logger Speaks Out – An Interview with Walter Smith”, by Bruce Anderson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 4, 1990.

[52] “Economic Survey of Humboldt County”, CA Eureka Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt County Board of Trade, July, 1960, 30.

[53] Foster, op. cit., “Part 3 – Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest”.

[54] “The Great Redwood Strike of 1946-48, What, Who, and Why”, by Russel Bartley and Sylvia Yoneda, Noyo Hill Notes, Fall 1996.

[55] “Don Nelson: Candidate for Supervisor, 4th District (Mendocino County)”, Interviewed by Beth Bosk – New Settler Interview, issue #31, May 1988.

[56] Bosk, May 1988, op. cit.

[57] Bosk, May 1988, op. cit.

[58] Garner, op. cit.

[59] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[60] “Log Export History: Mill Jobs Exported”, by Edie Butler, Hard Times, Vol. 3, #1, February 1983.

[61] Butler, op. cit.

[62] Melendy, Op Cit., 217-18.

[63] Foster, op. cit., “Part 3 – Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest”.

[64] “Economic Survey of Humboldt County”, op. cit., 30.

[65] Anderson, July 4, 1990, op. cit.

[66] Foster, op. cit., “Part 3 – Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest”.

[67] Anderson, July 4, 1990, op. cit.

[68] “Economic Survey of Humboldt County”, op. cit., 30.

[69] Wolf, Winfried, Car Mania: A Critical History of Transport, Chicago, IL. Pluto Press, ©1996, pp 81-90.

[70] “Kenneth O. Smith and Walter Smith: Gyppo Partners, Pacific Coast Timber Harvesting”, Interviewed by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, Issue #21, June 1987

[71] Butler, op. cit.

[72] Foster, op. cit., “Part 4 – Ecological Conflict and the Class Struggle”.

[73] Garner, op. cit.

[74] Boyer and Morais, op. cit.

[75] “95 Years of Revolutionary Industrial Unionism”, by Michael Hargis, Anarcho Syndicalist Review #28, Spring 2000.

[76] Fox, Stephen, John Muir and His Legacy, Boston, Little Brown, 1981, pages 214 and 275.

[77] Fox, op. cit, page 279.

[78] Fox, op. cit, pages 279-89.

[79] Cohen, Michael P., The History of the Sierra Club, 1892-1970, San Francisco, Sierra Club Books, 1988, pages 357-365.

[80] Cohen, op. cit., pages 394-434.

[81] “A Lesson for Environmentalists: The Earth First! Split, Part 1”, by Russell Norvell, Anderson Valley Advertiser, November 7, 1990.

[82] Cohen, op. cit., pages 394-434.

[83] Schrepfer, Susan R., The Fight to Save the Redwoods: A History of Environmental Reform, 1917-1978. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983. pp. 130–185.

[84] William Boly, “Travels in Humboldt”, California, February 1982, 69.

[85] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[86] Foster, op. cit., “Part 2 - Ecological Catastrophe and Social Crisis”.

[87] Meyers, op. cit.

[88] “Timber Outlook”, by Bob Martel, Country Activist, June 1988.

[89] “How a Timber Harvest Plan Works”, featured on the EPIC website at Emphasis added.

[90] Hrubes, Dr. Robert J., Final Report – Conclusions and Recommendations for Strengthening the Review and Evaluation of Timber Harvest Plans; Prepared for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, LSA Associates, Inc., Point Richmond, California, March 1990.

[91] Foster, op. cit., “Part 2 - Ecological Catastrophe and Social Crisis”.

[92] Martel, June 1988, op. cit.

[93] “Don Nelson: Candidate for Supervisor, 4th District (Mendocino County), interview by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, issue #31, May 1988.

[94] “25th Anniversary of EPIC vs. Johnson”, by Richard Gienger, blog entry on, July 30, 2010.

[95] These and other such instances are detailed at

[96] “Earth First!ers, Meet the IWW”, by x322339, Industrial Worker, May 1988.

[97] Martel, June 1988, op. cit.

[98] Martel, June 1988, op. cit.

[99] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[100] “Jobs, Automation and Exports”, by Eric Swanson, Mendocino Country Environmentalist, July 22, 1992.

[101] Martel, June 1988, op. cit.

[102] “Ten Earth First! Logging Rules”, speech by Judi Bari, Sacramento, California, January 8, 1992, featured on the album Who Bombed Judi Bari?, edited by Darryl Cherney, 1997.

[103] “Coastal Waves: An Occasional Column”, by Ron Guenther, Mendocino Commentary, April 18, 1985, and Country Activist, May 1985.

[104] Bartley and Yoneda, op cit.

[105] “25th Anniversary of EPIC vs. Johnson”, by Richard Gienger, blog entry on, July 30, 2010.

[106] “The Greening of Mendocino”, by Bob Martel, Country Activist, May 1985. Children waiting for a school bus on Greenwood Ridge Road in Mendocino County were also sprayed.

[107] “In Our Opinion”, by Barry Vogel, Mills Matheson and David Drell, Mendocino Commentary, February 21, 1985.

[108] Martel, May 1985, op. cit.

[109] Skaggs, op. cit.

[110] “Sprayed Loggers”, Tom Fales, Arlene Rial, Frank Fales, Wayne Thorstrom, Rick Rial, and Rod Cudney, Interviewed by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, Issue #3, April 1985.

[111] “Worker Health and Safety, Woods Workers Warning”, by Daniel Faulk, Hard Times, February 1983.

[112] Vogel, et. al., op. cit.

[113] Faulk, February 1983, op. cit.

[114] Faulk, February 1983, op. cit.

[115] Faulk, February 1983, op. cit.

[116] “IWA Statement before the Senate Committee on Industrial Relations: a Public Hearing on the Plant Closure Situation and the Proposed Senate Bill 1494”, Redding California, October 21, 1980.

[117] “Kenneth O. Smith and Walter Smith: Gyppo Partners, Pacific Coast Timber Harvesting”, Interviewed by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, Issue #21, June 1987

[118] Foster, op. cit., “Part 2 – Ecological Catastrophe and Social Crisis”.

[119] Meyers, op. cit.

[120] “Enough Already”, by Nat Bingham, North Coast News, September 6, 1990.

[121] “Ecological Arguments for Ancient Forest Protection”, Presentation of Eric Beckwitt, Chairman, Forest Issues Task Force, Sierra Nevada Group, Sierra Club at the organizational meeting of the California Ancient Forest Alliance, February 19, 1989, Davis, CA.

[122] Bosk, June 1987, op. cit.

[123] Foster, op. cit., “Part 2 – Ecological Catastrophe and Social Crisis”.

[124] Peter Morrison, in Joint Hearings, Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy of the Committee on Agriculture, and the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, 101st Congress, First Session, Management of Old-Growth Forests of the Pacific Northwest, 20 and 22 June 1989, pp. 270-78

[125] Sierra Club, op. cit.

[126] “Logging to Infinity”, By Chris Maser, Anderson Valley Advertiser, April 12, 1989.

[127] Sierra Club, op. cit.

[128] “The Man Who Walks in the Woods”, by Andy Alm, EcoNews, May 1988.

[129] Harris, David, The Last Stand: The War between Wall Street and Main Street over California’s Ancient Redwoods, New York, NY, Random House, 1995, pages 250-51.

[130] EPIC vs. Johnson I,

Tags: Redwood UprisingJudi BariIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)Earth First!Earth First! - IWW Local 1Redwood Summerecological movements and organizationsmovements, unions, and organizationscapitalism, colonialism, and fascismtimber workerstimber capitaliststree spikingEF!-IWW Local 1 timber workersIWW timber workersNon IWW timber workers friendly with Judi BariGeorgia-Pacific (GP)Louisiana-Pacific (LP)Pacific-Lumber (PALCO)MAXXAMCharles HurwitzHarry MerloT Marshall HahnCaliforniaHumboldt CountyMendocino CountyJudi Bari Bombing (May 24 1990)bookspublicationsgreen unionismgreen syndicalismjust transitionEnvironmental Protection Informaton Center (EPIC)Sierra ClubInternational Woodworkers of America (IWA)AFL-CIORonald ReaganneoliberalismFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)jobs versus environmentjobs

Advocates seek ban on bloom fertilizer over forever chemicals concerns

PEER - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 12:20

“These very, very high levels are likely to be transported into food and drinking water,” says Monica Mercola, staff counsel with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The other groups involved in the testing are the Montgomery Countryside Alliance and the Sugarloaf Citizens Association.

“Every single PFAS that has been studied for toxicity has been associated with adverse health effects, ranging from thyroid dysfunction to liver and kidney cancers,” says Mercola. “They are especially harmful towards children, causing issues of delayed development or even decreased responses to vaccines.”

The three groups recently wrote a letter to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Evan Glass, requesting a ban on using Bloom and other biosolids on “county agriculture fields, golf courses and public lands.”

Read the PEER Story…

The post Advocates seek ban on bloom fertilizer over forever chemicals concerns appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

PETITION | Make National Parks Plastic-Free in Two Years

PEER - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 11:42

Our national parks are drowning in a rising tide of plastic waste. Single-use disposable plastic bottles are the single biggest component of national park waste streams.

Mountains of plastic bottles and single-use plastic burden wildlife, create greenhouse gases, pollute our waters, and cost taxpayers to haul away. As crowds return to record levels following the pandemic, a tsunami of plastic waste will again swamp our parks.

The Biden administration has pledged to address this issue over the next ten years. Yet national parks can start going plastic-free right now. Park concessioners are willing to stop stocking disposable plastic items, but they need direction from the National Park Service.

Sign on with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) GreenLatinos and Beyond Plastics today. Ask the Park Service Director to ensure that our parks are plastic free NOW. The planet cannot afford to wait until 2032! Share this hashtag: #2NOT10

National Park Service Director

Dear NPS Director Chuck Sams,

Discarded single-use plastic water bottles are swamping our national parks. These plastic discards are the single biggest component of park waste. They are damaging human health and our environment with disproportionate impacts on low-income and communities of color. The proposed rule would be a step forward in President Biden’s efforts to right past wrongs and move toward environmental justice.

The International Bottled Water association convinced your predecessor to tie the hands of park superintendents who are now forbidden from restricting sales of plastic water bottles in any way – no exception.

This industry-sponsored restriction should not only be rescinded but also completely reversed by eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles in all parks.

We, the undersigned, are asking that you

  • Outlaw sales of plastic water bottles at all national parks;
  • Cut plastics discarded in parks by 75%;
  • Ensure that there are adequate sources of free potable water available for park visitors; and
  • Manage our parks to set a “green” example.

Please help our national parks go green.



To learn more about PEER’S work to get plastics out of parks»

The post PETITION | Make National Parks Plastic-Free in Two Years appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Energy & Environment — GOP governors call for delay on waters rule

PEER - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 12:20

The Agriculture Department’s integrity policy includes similar language saying that scientists shouldn’t make policy judgments.

In a press release complaining about the measure on Monday, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility described the provision against policy judgments as a “gag rule.”

  • Jeff Ruch, the group’s Pacific director, said that restricting federal scientists from commenting on policy is the opposite of what a scientific integrity policy is supposed to do.
  • “Any time a scientist wrote something that had any policy implications, it could be suppressed, which runs counter to the whole idea of a scientific integrity policy,” Ruch said.

Read the PEER Story…

The post Energy & Environment — GOP governors call for delay on waters rule appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Opinion: Banning ‘forever chemicals’ forever

PEER - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 09:17

We are waking up to the dangers of toxic “forever chemicals” called PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and the sources of these dangerous compounds. A recent alarming discovery: common pesticides, which are sprayed across our communities, farms, health care facilities, playgrounds, and schools, contain high levels of PFAS.

“If the intent was to spread PFAS contamination across the globe, there would be few more effective methods than lacing pesticides with PFAS,” said Kayla Bennett, research director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Read the PEER Story…

The post Opinion: Banning ‘forever chemicals’ forever appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

OSTP Slips Gag Rule into Model Scientific Integrity Policy

PEER - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 06:43

Monday, January 30, 2023
Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028


OSTP Slips Gag Rule into Model Scientific Integrity Policy Scientists Prohibited from Policy Recommendations in Presenting Research


Washington, DC —Buried inside a White House “Model Scientific Integrity Policy” issued this month is a bar against any federal scientist making or publishing any statements “that could be construed as being judgments of, or recommendations on,” any federal policy without permission. If adopted, that restriction would censor a broad range of federal research and undercut the model’s stated purposes of promoting transparency and “free flow of scientific information,” according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

On January 12, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a “Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice” containing a model scientific integrity policy that all federal agencies are urged to emulate. Ironically, in the section entitled “Ensuring the Free Flow of Scientific Information” is this provision:

“[AGENCY] scientists shall refrain from making or publishing statements that could be construed as being judgments of, or recommendations on, [AGENCY] or any other Federal Government policy, unless they have secured appropriate prior approval to do so. Such communications shall remain within the bounds of their scientific or technological findings, unless specifically otherwise authorized.”

It is apparently based upon a similar provision in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s scientific integrity policy. USDA has used that provision to order a staff entomologist to remove his name from a peer-reviewed journal article on how monoculture farming reduces diversity in insect populations, limiting beneficial pollinators. That same provision was cited to the scientist as the basis for barring him from speaking at a conference about the effects on pollinators from genetically modified crops and the insecticides used to treat them. He later resigned in frustration.

“This restriction on discussing the implications of research has no place in a scientific integrity policy.” Declared Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch. “Typically, it is only scientific research that has policy implications that is at risk of suppression or political manipulation.”

In a letter to the OSTP Director advocating the removal of that provision of its Model Policy, PEER points out that it can be used to punish scientists or stifle controversial research, such as –

    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research showing that toxic PFAS or other pollutants are migrating off of military bases due to inadequate controls;
    • Centers for Disease Control research showing that dangerous viruses and other pathogens are at risk of release from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife research laboratories due to the absence of independent biosafety reviews; or
    • USGS research showing that water degradation is caused by overgrazing the Bureau of Land Management permits on its livestock allotments or that fish mutations can be traced to a lack of EPA regulation of endocrine disrupters entering waterways.

In addition, PEER argues that such a prohibition is unconstitutional as applied to government scientists speaking or writing as private citizens, since the public interest in the issue would almost always outweigh any potential disruption of efficient government operations.

“Besides being unconstitutional, this prohibition serves no discernible public purpose,” added Ruch, noting that the OSTP policy as written arguably requires that the scientist must have permission not only from their own agency but also from the agency whose policy is commented upon, a daunting task indeed. “Government scientists should not need to cast a profile in courage to openly discuss the implications of their research.”


Read the PEER letter to OSTP Director

Look at the OSTP Scientific Integrity Framework (see page 32)

View how similar USDA policy was used to censor

See other problems with OSTP approach to scientific integrity

The post OSTP Slips Gag Rule into Model Scientific Integrity Policy appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Watchdog group says White House science integrity measure amounts to a ‘gag rule’

PEER - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 06:21

In a press release complaining about the measure on Monday, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility described the provision against policy judgments as a “gag rule.”

Jeff Ruch, the group’s Pacific director, said that restricting federal scientists from commenting on policy is the opposite of what a scientific integrity policy is supposed to do.

“Any time a scientist wrote something that had any policy implications, it could be suppressed, which runs counter to the whole idea of a scientific integrity policy,” Ruch said.

Read the PEER Story…

The post Watchdog group says White House science integrity measure amounts to a ‘gag rule’ appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

No One Is Happy With the Federal Grazing Program

PEER - Sun, 01/29/2023 - 11:40

So what are the problems, and what needs to change? For starters, the current cattle program is deeply under-resourced, said Chandra Rosenthal in a video interview with Gizmodo. Rosenthal is the head of the Rocky Mountain office of the nonprofit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which provides legal and other support for current and former public employees. The BLM is supposed to track the health of every parcel of rangeland it allots to ranchers, Rosenthal said. Yet through PEER’s own analysis (developed by a former BLM subcontractor), the nonprofit found that the Bureau hasn’t recorded any monitoring data on about 28% of that land. And of the land it had assessed, the BLM noted about half failed to meet its own Land Health Standards, according to PEER’s 2020 review. In 72% of those failures, covering about 40 million acres of land, the BLM indicated livestock overgrazing was a central factor. “We think that the program is really understaffed,” said Rosenthal, who said she and PEER have spoken with numerous past and present workers at the Bureau concerned that the land they oversee is in worse condition than it was when they began their jobs. “There’s a lot of dissatisfaction in those positions,” she added.

Read the PEER Story…

The post No One Is Happy With the Federal Grazing Program appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

COMMENTARY | Minnesota Agency Reverses Course on Illegal Permit

PEER - Fri, 01/27/2023 - 14:05
Minnesota Agency Reverses Course on Illegal Permit

Great River Energy Headquarters

In 2005 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the Commission) granted permits to Great River Energy (GRE) for a power plant in Cambridge, MN, under Minnesota’s streamlined alternative review permitting system for gas-burning power plants.

In recent months, GRE, who still owns and operates the plant, has been attempting to push through what they call a “minor alteration” to the existing permit which would allow for construction changing the facility to allow the burning of both gas and diesel fuel oil. The obvious negative impacts of large scale burning of oil is well documented, despite GRE’s attempt to minimize this fact. In calling this a “minor alteration,” GRE is looking to circumvent the normal permitting requirements and environmental review process required by Minnesota law for new oil-burning power plants.

In Spring of 2022, we launched an effort to stop this legal subterfuge and called for an environmental review of the proposed update to the Cambridge facility prior to permitting. Our petition asserts that GRE’s proposed “minor alteration” is anything but minor and was put forth in bad faith by GRE in an effort to skirt the regular review process for an oil-burning facility. The dozens of Minnesotans who signed the petition believed that plant alterations shouldn’t be authorized without analysis of the potential for environmental impacts of adding oil-burning capacity to the existing plant.

In June of 2022 the Commission unanimously agreed with the petitioners and called for an environmental review of the proposed plant. Per Minnesota law, after the citizen petition was submitted, no state or local agency could legally issue a permit for the proposal until the petition was rejected or environmental review was completed. During the review process (which has yet to officially begin), PEER and its partners at CURE and the Sierra Club look forward to proving that the project would be too harmful and is not worth pursuing, considering the many negative impacts to the community and global climate.

Despite receiving formal legal notice of the Commission’s decision to grant the petition and require environmental review, and in violation of the law, two different state agencies subsequently ignored the Commission’s action and prematurely approved permits for the oil plant.

External plant infrastructure, Cambridge Generating Station, Cambridge, Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a groundwater permit for the proposed facility on the same day that the Commission decided that additional environmental review was required. As far as DNR knew, the citizen petition was still pending before a different agency and no permits should have been issued at all.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) issued a major air pollution permit modification for the project in October 2022 – well past the approval of the citizen petition and prior to the beginning of any environmental review. PCA was well aware that any such final permit issuance was illegal, as they had formal notice of the Commission’s decision in the state’s official register. To make matters worse, this permit modification allowed for more localized and dangerous air pollution, in excess of levels set by the facility’s existing gas-only air permit.

On January 18, in response to questions from PEER, DNR made the right call and suspended the new permit and explained to GRE that the issuing of the permit was not consistent with Minnesota law. DNR’s letter correctly explained to GRE that it could not issue a new groundwater permit for the project until the environmental review has been completed. As the environmental review for this power plant hasn’t yet begun, DNR will have to wait for that process to fully wrap up before it can again consider whether to issue a permit.

Ideally, PCA would follow DNR’s example and suspend its own permit modification, allowing GRE to continue to operate its existing plant under the previous permit limits. At the very least, it must account for why it issued an illegal permit when it knew the environmental review was pending. Only after the environmental review concludes could PCA revisit the permitting application and decide what to do based on the additional information within the environmental document.

PEER will continue to monitor the environmental review process and urges Minnesota agencies to uphold their legal duties so that dangerous permitting mistakes like this are not commonplace occurrences. Public employees at these agencies are bound to the law’s “look before you leap” requirements, and mistakenly-issued permits should be retracted when an environmental review is ongoing – not just when they get caught.

Hudson Kingston is a Litigation and Policy Attorney at PEER, a Minnesota enthusiast and one-time professional baker.

The post COMMENTARY | Minnesota Agency Reverses Course on Illegal Permit appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Holding Space for Grief Over Community Violence

Movement Generation - Thu, 01/26/2023 - 16:39

Content warning: shootings and police violence

We at MG have been processing the past week of violence in the United States (January 2023). On top of the continued assault against Black communities, people have been lost to gun violence in Monterey Park, CA, Half Moon Bay, CA, Des Moines, IA, Yakima, WA, and more in a matter of days. Many were Asian folks, some were Indigenous farmworkers, some were children, and all were beloved relatives to people. We feel deep love for them and for their families and communities.

Last week, Georgia police shot and killed an Indigenous Venezuelan activist named Tortuguita Terán. Tortuguita was defending Weelaunee forest outside Atlanta against the development of Cop City, a planned urban warfare police training facility being built on land that was stolen from Mvskoke people in the 1800s and later used as a plantation and a prison farm. Tortuguita’s death has been on our minds, and their family and comrades in our hearts. 

In the wake of Keenan Anderson’s murder at the hands of LAPD this month, we can draw connections between the losses of Black and brown lives. We know that all of this violence is connected by a common thread of colonialism. We are still learning about what happened in the recent shootings in California, but one thing is clear: The rise in mass shootings in this country is a tragic consequence of an extractive system that breeds xenophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and racism. The colonial violence represented by Cop City and the land’s history, as well the extractive economy that militarized police are designed to protect, illustrates a system that centers the protection of capital and privilege over the well being of people and the planet.

What becomes possible when we shift our economy towards sacredness and caring? While we can never bring back the precious lives lost, we work to transform our communities from the inside out to be connected, safe, and loving. It is a long road full of grief. The healers among us help us to hold the grief, move through it, and transform ourselves and the world around us.

We are here to hold space, especially for our Asian communities in this moment. We are here to vision and work for a better future. In the meantime, we offer some resources for grief and healing for all, and some actions that can be taken.

Practices for Moving Through Grief:

Grief Is a Messenger:

Grief Belongs in Social Movements. Can We Embrace It?:

Asian Mental Health Project:

Monterey Park Lunar New Year Victims Fund:

Resources for Monterey Park Victims and Families:

Half Moon Bay Strong Fund via Ayudando Latinos a Soñar:

Coastside Hope’s Farmworker Fund:

GoFundMe for Family of Tortuguita Terán:

Stop Cop City:

Defend the Atlanta Forest:

Take Action Against the Atlanta Police Foundation:

Chapter 1 : An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 18:39

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

The mill men all insist on one thing: that the Government will grant the manufacturers protection from the lawless element of the I.W.W.’s”

—J. P. Weyerhaeuser, 1917

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might,
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
The union makes us strong…

—Lyrics excerpted from Solidarity Forever, by Ralph Chaplin, ca. 1915

The timber industry has, throughout nearly its entire history, been in the control of an elite minority of the very rich and powerful, and they have been especially avaricious, violent, and repressive towards all who would challenge their power. They have also—in spite of a barrage of slick propaganda trumpeting their careful management of the resource—depleted most of the virgin forests of the Pacific Northwest. Many environmental organizations can trace their origins to opposition to such practices, and in the struggles by environmentalists to preserve forestlands, timber workers have had a reputation for being their fiercest adversaries, and in many cases, this is true. Timber workers have a well deserved reputation for being outspoken about the pride of purpose in their job, as well as a deeply ingrained cultural machismo. Yet lumber harvesting and production is historically one of the ten most dangerous jobs in the industrialized world, and timber workers are among those most exploited by their employers. One would logically expect the timber workers to be highly resistant to such treatment, but in recent years they haven’t been. This wasn’t always so. To understand why, one must examine the industry’s origins.

Before the arrival of European-American settlers to the Pacific Northwest, the entire region stretching from northern California to Canada and Alaska from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains was dominated by coniferous old growth forests. At least 20 million acres of this land was forested, dominated by various species of trees, some of them hundreds of feet in height, over a dozen feet in diameter, and centuries or even millennia old.[1] In the southwestern part of this region, stretching from Big Sur to roughly what is now the Oregon state line, in a belt that was at least twenty miles wide for most of its expanse a very unique species of tree dominated, Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the California redwoods, some of them standing over 350 feet tall. Their close (and similarly large) cousins, Sequoiadendron giganteum, better known as the Giant Sequoia, only grew in a few isolated spots in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada foothills. These vast forests were far more then the trees, however. Hundreds, if not thousands of plant and animal species lived and flourished within these wooded habitats, and as far as is known, the indigenous population of the Americas had no significant lasting impact on California’s ancient redwood forests, nor did they have any lasting effect on the timberlands of the Pacific Northwest in general.[2] Like the Native Americans, the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest had remained left more or less untouched for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years.

The coming of the white man changed all of that. The Russians first began exploiting the redwoods for the construction of Fort Ross in 1812, during their very brief settlement there.[3] As more Europeans arrived, the forests south of San Francisco were the first to be logged, usually through clearcutting, until these ancient stands were completely liquidated by 1860. In those days, loggers used hand saws, and felling an ancient redwood could take anywhere from two-to-five days to complete. The redwoods to the north of the Golden Gate in what is now Marin County were logged next, especially along rivers that allowed easy transportation by the available modes of the day. By this time, around 1881, the steam engine had replaced pack animals. Though this first wave of automation did not have a significant impact on the number of workers involved in the logging process, it greatly increased the impact logging had on the redwoods. Entire forests were liquidated, no matter how small the tree, because even the baby trees were used to build the skid roads used for hauling the larger ones. These forests were never replanted, and very few of them grew back, and in some cases, farmlands replaced them. By the beginning of the 20th Century, all but a few of these ancient trees were gone and logging operations migrated north to Sonoma County. One quarter century later, most of these old growth forests were likewise gone.[4]

The remoteness of California’s “North Coast”, stretching north from Point Arena, in southwestern Mendocino County, to what is now the Oregon border, which is comprised of mountainous, rocky terrain with few rivers and bays to provide easy access, helped keep that region free of logging until the latter half of the 19th Century. The California Gold Rush of 1849, however, greatly increased the demand for timber, and that helped draw opportunistic lumbermen to what is now Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties.[5] The further discovery of gold along the Trinity River to the east of Humboldt County brought about a second, smaller but highly significant gold rush on the North Coast.[6] The initial settlement in what became the city of Eureka at Humboldt Bay happened in 1850, the year of California’s admission to the Union as the 31st American state.[7] As early as 1870, logging and milling industries dominated the region’s economy.[8] Homesteading laws allowed (non indigenous) settlers to acquire 160 acres of land at approximately $1.25 per acre, and redwood forests produced on average $1,500 per acre. This created a land rush on California’s ancient forests such that by the turn of the Twentieth Century, most of them were in private hands.[9] The Giant Sequoias only managed to escape destruction because they proved too difficult to log and transport in those days.[10]

The turn of the century Presidential administrations of Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt were, at the time, progressive on environmental matters, at least by the standards that existed in those days, and they built upon the progress of previous administrations. As early as 1876, the US Government began to concern itself with forest preservation. That year, an act of Congress created the office of Special Agent in the Department of Agriculture to assess the quality and conditions of forests in the United States. In 1881, the office was expanded into the newly formed Division of Forestry. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized withdrawing land from the public domain as “forest reserves,” managed by the Department of the Interior, but this was not the result of grassroots environmental activism. The National Forest System was partly the result of concerted action by Los Angeles-area businessmen and property owners who were concerned by the harm being done to the watershed of the San Gabriel Mountains by ranchers and miners.[11] The Bureau would eventually become the US Forest Service in 1905, and its first chief was a man named Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot sought to turn public land policy from one that dispersed resources to private holdings to one that maintained federal ownership and management of public land. Pinchot was a progressive who was a strong adherent to the efficiency movement, and in the matter of forestry, that meant the most efficient and waste free harvesting methods available. Under Pinchot’s guidance, the early US Forest Service administrations promoted conservation, albeit on the service of maximizing the potential use of the resource.[12]

At the same time, the first groups of environmentalists fought the encroachment of commercial logging interests on wilderness throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 1892, John Muir established the Sierra Club, partly to duplicate his efforts to preserve California’s Yosemite Valley, which, with the help of President Roosevelt, had become the nation’s second National Park after Yellowstone in Montana.[13] From these efforts the US Government established the National Park System, but almost from the start, the timber barons sought to undermine it, and successfully engaged in divide and conquer tactics to achieve that goal. As head of the US Forest Service under the Roosevelt and Taft administrations, Gifford Pinchot had jurisdiction over the National Park System, but his vision of “efficient resource use” clashed with Muir’s. Their competing visions of conservationism came to a head over the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and dam in 1908.[14]

During the early 1900s, the City of San Francisco had been battling with a private water company that provided subpar service at high prices. Their solution was the construction of a municipally owned water and power company to be created from damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley. In the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire which damaged much of the city, the private water company failed to provide adequate water supplies to prevent the destruction, thus creating a political tidal wave pushing for the Hetch Hetchy project. Muir and the Sierra Club opposed the project, but with Pinchot in command of the National Park System, the dam would eventually be built in 1912 under the Wilson administration.[15] Although well intended, this project established the precedent that human interests came before biological ones—even in national parks—and in doing so the government opened the door for private exploitation of public resources. The implications of this decision would soon prove to be dire.

By the turn of the Twentieth Century, practically all private timberlands in the United States and Canada were already controlled by large corporations—called “trusts” and “monopoly groups” in those days—and among them, the largest were owned by Rockefeller and Weyerhaeuser.[16] At one point, lumber corporations were so powerful and their holdings so vast, the United States Department of Commerce under the President Taft administration reported, “There (is) a dominating control of our standing timber in a comparatively few enormous holdings steadily towards the control of the lumber industry.” The commercial value of this timber was measured at no less than $6 billion (in 1920 dollar amounts), owned by no more than “ten monopoly groups aggregating only 1,802 holders.” The amount of standing timber was measured at 1.2 quadrillion board feet, or approximately enough wood to build a bridge more than two feet thick, five miles wide, and 3,310 miles long (the approximate distance from New York City to Liverpool).[17] The lumber magnates were exorbitantly wealthy and no less robber baron capitalists than those who owned railroads or vast oil reserves.

By contrast, conditions in those days for the lumber workers were abysmal. Workers were paid just barely enough to survive, if that, and ten or even twelve hour-workdays were common. Loggers tended to be itinerant workers and lived in camps where the living conditions were vile, bunk-houses unspeakably filthy and overcrowded, the water polluted, and the food rotten. Many workers had to pack their own blankets from job to job and many other conditions cried for improvement.[18] Meanwhile, the sawmills could credibly have been described as “satanic”. Workers endured similar long hours of work and pitifully meager wages, and few who worked as sawyers for any significant length of time escaped without at least one serious injury to one or both hands. Their fellow workers in the woods faced a similar daily array of horrors that could result in mutilation or even untimely death, and there were little or no safety standards to mitigate potential loss of limb or even life. Workers paid a monthly hospital fee of $1, which was no small amount in those days. The hospital was company owned, and the doctor’s role was to dispense the injured or ill worker as quickly as possible with as little hassle to the employer as manageable. The profit of the “lumber trust” trumped all other considerations. To make matters worse, the vaunted American “democracy” was made mockery of by the realpolitik of corporate dominated timber communities. Whole towns, counties, even states—including all branches of the government—were owned lock, stock, and barrel by the timber corporations. In some cases, this was literally true, as lumber companies were known for creating “company towns”.[19]

Job security was nonexistent. Collusion between local authorities and lumber mill owners, shootouts, and lynching of dissident radicals characterized labor relations throughout the Pacific Northwest.[20] In most logging camps, timber fallers could not obtain employment unless they first obtained a ticket, for no small fee, from an employment agent, much like a modern temp agency. These agents, known to many workers as “job sharks”, worked in concert with the lumber corporations, generally to keep wages low and conditions abysmal. In some cases, the “shark” would be constantly shipping new gangs of workers to the logging camp, while the employers were working another gang, while meanwhile, the gang they had just discharged was on its way back to the employment agent, giving rise to the so-called “three-gang system”.[21] IWW singer-songwriter Utah Phillips in somewhat nostalgic historical recollection half humorously referred to this as “the bosses’ idea of perpetual motion”, though to the timber worker this was no joke.[22] If the worker complained about his lot, took ill, or was injured on the job, the employers would contact the shark for replacements.[23]

Meanwhile, workers in the mills were under constant pressure to maintain production. To speak out against these injustices was to risk not only (early) termination, but blacklisting as well. The employers made sure of this and they also kept close tabs on their revolving door employment gangs by enlisting the help of willing collaborators to serve as spies, who could be called upon to finger potential dissidents.[24] Resistance to this sorry state of affairs was difficult if not impossible individually, but the workers did have one thing on their side, and that was the power of mutual aid and collective action. In other words, they could organize a union.[25]

The earliest attempts at union organizing were spurred on by radicals and idealists. Many of them were veterans of attempted utopian communities which experimented with rudimentary forms of socialism on an isolated, small village scale during the late 19th Century.[26] For more than half a century, numerous attempts to overcome the stranglehold over working conditions by the employing class was made by various progressive and/or radical movements, including the Knights of Labor, Populists, Progressives, International Workingman’s Association, Union Labor Party, Greenback Labor Party, and various other utopians.[27] Fittingly, the earliest known attempts to organize a timber workers’ union took place in Eureka in 1884. Shortly after its formation, it affiliated with the Knights of Labor, and at its height, its membership reached over 2,000 with locals in Eureka, Arcata, Freshwater, and several other nearby communities. One of its principle grievances was the hospital fee, and the union successfully—through nonviolent collective action—decommissioned the company hospital and forced the head doctor to leave town, never to be seen there again. It also successfully fought against wage reductions and exposed on ongoing scam by the California Redwood Company (CRC), to the unsuspecting public.[28]

CRC was incorporated in California, but owned by absentee capitalists whose agenda—which the latter did little to conceal—was to obtain a monopoly of all redwood timberland and timber production facilities in California, and they did so by employing an underhanded, though technically legal form of trickery. In those days the US Government, and many western states and territories in particular, strongly encouraged the homesteading of “unclaimed” land (the long preexisting territorial rights to such land by indigenous peoples were, of course, utterly ignored). Knowing this, agents of the company would convince locals to file claims at the local land office which the latter would then sell to the company for a small profit, usually $20. Of course, these agents didn’t reveal their actual interests to their unsuspecting cats’ paws, but their activities didn’t escape notice by at least one wary local, a Eureka butcher by the name of Charles Keller, a member of the International Workingman’s Association—the very same First International whose members included Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx. Keller took notice of the large number of customers who boasted about their land deals, suspected fraud, and conducted his own private investigation. What he discovered was astonishing, and he tried to expose the subterfuge only to find that the first three land agents he contacted were in the know. He was even offered $60,000, on which one could retire in those days, by the perpetrators to drop the affair, but the butcher refused to be bought.[29] The fourth agent, likewise, was incorruptible, and with Keller, filed the following report in 1886:

The agents of the company soon discovered (the new agent’s) presence and business and attempted to defeat the investigation. Some of the witnesses were spirited out of the country; others were threatened and intimidated; spies were employed to watch and follow the agent and report the names of all persons who conversed with or called upon him; and on occasion two persons who were about to enter the agent’s room at his hotel for the purpose of conferring with him in reference to the entries, were knocked down and dragged away.”[30]

Keller was intimidated and blacklisted as was his shop. The local press, led by the Humboldt Times and the Humboldt Standard, both of whom were subservient to the interests of the CRC, denounced Keller as an outsider, influenced by foreign agency, which was ironic considering the actual nature of the CLC’s owners. The smear campaign succeeded in forcing Keller to move to Tulare County in southern California, but the investigations continued and—with the collective solidarity of the labor union, to which Keller was sympathetic—the corrupted officials of the CRC were eventually indicted and the company was forced to shut down.[31] The union itself managed by 1890 to successfully force the other employers to reduce the standard workday from twelve to ten hours, but a year later, the employers, eventually working together in concert, broke the union through an intense campaign of blacklisting and intimidation. The first attempt at organizing a timber workers’ union had been successful on a small scale, but ultimately limited by the organized power of the employing class.[32]

There would be several attempts to organize sawmill workers in northwestern California again, the majority of these beginning at the opening years of the Twentieth Century. These attempts stemmed from an upsurge in union organizing nationwide, which was reflected in California. From 1900 to 1904, the number of trade unions increased from 217 to 805 and the number of workers in unions soared from 30,000 to 110,000. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) made its initial attempts to organize in the lumber industry on the North Coast, focusing primarily on Mendocino County, where there was a particularly violent strike in 1902 and 03. In Fort Bragg the Union Lumber Company (ULC)—whose name stemmed from the merger of three smaller companies and whose hostility to labor unions was legendary—surrounded its mill in the coast town of Fort Bragg with barbed wire and hired armed guards to harass and intimidate strikers. During the course of the strike, these guards shot several of the strikers and the union efforts were crushed. Despite these setbacks, in 1905, the AFL still managed to establish a foothold in Humboldt County, accepting affiliation of the newly formed International Brotherhood of Woodsmen and Sawmill Workers (IBWSW), whose membership reached 2,000—consisting of over half the county’s workforce—within two years of its founding. By then Humboldt County’s lumber industry was dominated by three corporations at the time: Hammond Lumber Company, Northern Redwood Lumber Company, and Pacific Lumber Company, who together owned 64 percent of the county’s timberlands and accounted for 60 percent of its milling capacity.[33]

Beyond the North Coast, there were numerous attempts to organize in the timber industry under the banner of various labor unions and federations, including the AFL, but their successes, if any, were always limited and short lived. This was due to various factors, including the organized power of the lumber employers, the tendency of these unions to organize on a small scale, and the tendency of many of the latter, particularly the AFL, to organize workers by skill or craft—often shunning unskilled workers—and to collaborate with the employer over various workplace issues. This extended well beyond lumber to most industries.[34] The AFL believed in the principle, “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”, which meant that they believed in the principles of capitalism, but that workers deserved a bigger share of the pie. This principle conflicted, however, with the notion, once expressed by Adam Smith of all people, that labor creates all wealth and that the only fair way to share the pie was to divide the company’s profits equally. Among timber workers in particular, those working in the mills were considered the skilled craftsman, and tended to be mostly of WASP descent, while those working in the woods were considered less skilled and tended to be of a larger variety of backgrounds, particularly northern, central, and eastern European, and sometimes even Asian or African American. Many unions, including the AFL shunned these unskilled, non WASP workers out of racial and class prejudice. Veterans of these early labor struggles, who included some of the aforementioned utopians along with those radicalized by direct experience in these struggles, determined that something more than the existing model of unionism was needed, but what?[35]

In response to this need, a group of these idealists and radicals held various meetings in Chicago in 1904 and established, in 1905, the Industrial Workers or the World (IWW), popularly known as the “Wobblies”. The new union announced its intent to organize all workers regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, or skill into “One Big Union.” They pledged that they would organize all workers in the same industry into one union as opposed to competing craft unions. They stressed the use of the strike, direct action in the workplace, and building direct worker control over the means of production.[36] This intent was most eloquently spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution of the IWW, which (as of 1908) began:

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system…”[37]

The IWW proposed as the workers’ ultimate weapon, the “general strike” whereby all workers in the same industry (or, on an even larger scale, all workers worldwide) would cease work at the time and effectively lock out the employers, thus taking possession of the machinery of production once and for all.[38] The Preamble finished with:

Instead of the conservative motto, ‘a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work,’ we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system’.

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with the capitalists, but also, to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”[39]

This vision wasn’t just revolutionary (replacing the leadership in charge of the economy and state), but transformative, seeking to completely remake society from the ground up using the tools that were hitherto used to enslave in the process of doing so.

The IWW was inspired by a confluence of the socialism of Marx, the anarchism of Bakunin, and many indigenous American radical tendencies blended together and tempered by the experience of direct struggle by workers at the point of production. The union adopted as its slogan, “an injury to one is an injury to all,” which eloquently illustrated the ideal of working class solidarity. The Wobblies also allowed members of other unions to hold membership cards in its own organization.[40] Many timber workers, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, who had become highly cynical of the AFL’s class collaborationism, were drawn to the IWW’s uncompromising militancy.[41]

The Wobblies’ presence was felt immediately in the Pacific Northwest. IWW members were known to have been active in Eureka as early as 1906, though at first their influence was limited.[42] Many partially successful strikes took place involving IWW members in 1907, 1908, and 1909 in western Montana, where, in some cases, workers succeeded in reducing the daily hours of work to nine, but these efforts were undermined by the AFL’s collaboration with the companies. In 1907, 2,500 lumber workers struck for improved working conditions in Humboldt County, but the strike was crushed in six weeks due to conflicting positions by the IBWSW and IWW.[43] That same year, 2,500 sawmill workers struck in Portland, Oregon, bringing all lumber production in that city to a halt. Only a minority of the strikers were IWW, though they were “the leading spirits.”[44] The strike lasted three weeks but collapsed due to disagreements between the IWW and AFL.[45] According to the Wobblies, the leadership of the latter undermined the strike by caving in to the bosses’ demands against the will of their rank and file, even instructing their members to cross the picket lines, some of which were maintained by IWW members.[46]

The IWW’s commitment to organizing all workers regardless of race or skill level pushed the boundaries of union organizing. In the American southeast—where the post Civil War Reconstruction had collapsed due to the reascendency of the Confederate power structure in all but official declaration—the Brotherhood of Timber Workers, based in southwestern Louisiana, which started in 1910, affiliated with the IWW in 1912, with a membership of at least 5,000.[47] It was one of the first fully integrated labor unions in the United States. It won several strikes, with the solidarity of sympathetic small farmers, but was defeated by repression from the lumber companies which organized vigilante mobs, including the Ku Klux Klan and somewhat more “respectable” Good Citizen’s Leagues, in response to the union.[48] Aiding the lumber bosses, Luther Egbert Hall, the governor of Louisiana, tacitly allowed the repression of the IWW, and this lead to the union’s eventual defeat and helped prolong Jim Crow racism in the south.[49] In doing so, the employers weakened the power of organized labor in the Deep South such that it would have devastating effects on the power of timber workers to organize for over three generations, but elsewhere the Wobblies flourished.

In February of that same year, various IWW lumber workers’ locals in the Pacific northwest consolidated into an early attempt at a regional industrial union, based in Seattle, Washington, and helped lead a strike that began as a wildcat in the sawmills of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Raymond, against the ten-hour day and low wages. Only a minority of the workers were IWW members, but the strike was partially successful. Various strikes took place Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, and western Washington which were, again, all partially successful at modestly increasing wages, maintaining the nine-hour day, and slight improvements to camp conditions.[50]

Many of these gains were made in spite of lawless repression from the employers. Many strikers were often arrested and jailed on trumped up charges, while others were dragged from their beds at night, violently assaulted, and driven away by agents of the company. Local governments were often complicit in such activities, and the press tended to blame the IWW, accusing the latter of creating a climate of fear and lawlessness, even though the Wobblies remained for the most part nonviolent, albeit militant and uncompromising in its anti-capitalism.[51] In the face the northwestern timber bosses repression—which was no less violent than in the Deep South—the IWW proved most creative at resisting it.

The IWW carried out much of its organizing through its effective distribution of handbills, pamphlets, and newspapers (many of which were published in multiple languages) as well as street corner oratory, better known as “soap-boxing”. This latter tactic proved to be quite effective, and in many instances the employing class sought to thwart it by any means necessary. In some cases, lumber dominated towns would pass ordinances banning soap-boxing, which the Wobblies would fight against by engaging in free speech fights, one of the most famous of these taking place in Spokane, Washington in 1909, to assert the right to practice their supposedly constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.[52] In this particular case, the anti soap-boxing ordinances allowed only religious organizations, such as the Salvation Army (whose preachers were known to excoriate the IWW and other “godless communists” for their “blasphemy”) to perform their hymns. The Wobblies had a good many members with a flair for music and folk song writing—including its most famous martyr, Joe Hill—and they would often turn up at these free speech fights performing the Salvation Army songs with new lyrics “rewritten so they made more sense,” with a distinct class struggle orientation.[53] From these fights and the publication of song sheets with red covers to raise funds for various organizing campaigns, the IWW’s very famous Little Red Songbook was born, and the Wobblies became known as “the Singing Union.”[54]

The IWW’s free speech fights were legendary and powerful, sometimes even to the point where they could turn back the tide of the bosses’ repression. In some cases, like Spokane, the IWW would call upon its members to “fill the jails” in order to cost the employers and their compliant governments as much money as possible, thereby rendering political repression prohibitively expensive. These tactics sometimes even proved effective at turning local merchants against the timber companies and gaining sympathy for the union.[55] The Wobblies are still remembered today, most generally for colorful tactics such as these, but such romantic accounts usually neglect to mention that even these things, by themselves, are not the IWW’s true mark upon history.

The Wobblies antics helped spread its reputation and increase its influence among sympathetic workers, but they hadn’t yet built the organized economic power at the point of production, which was the goal its founders originally sought. Certainly, the IWW’s agitation among the lumber towns of the region brought about small gains and small scale reforms, but this was only the beginning of what was needed. In most cases, the IWW was little more than an organized minority of the membership involved in these struggles, though it often played crucial leadership roles in them and many of the timber workers were sympathetic to the Wobblies. If nothing else, their fights demonstrated the power of effective organization and the futility of the craft unionism of the AFL.[56] To their credit, the organizers of the One Big Union recognized that limited struggles and organization were not enough to achieve lasting victory, and being “democratic to a fault” as their more centralist socialist competitors often labeled them, the Wobblies debated and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of their strategies and tactics constantly. The urgency of their efforts was well warranted, because the power of the lumber trust continued to grow, often with the help of the United States government.

* * * * *

As the timber barons logged out their private holdings, they began to encroach upon the lands that had been supposedly set aside in the public trust. Ironically, one year after he had successfully fought off the Sierra Club’s challenge to Hetch Hetchy, Gifford Pinchot found himself in John Muir’s shoes. In 1908, President Taft had replaced his predecessor’s Secretary of the Interior, James Rudolph Garfield—the son of President James Garfield and a staunch conservationist—with former Seattle Mayor, Richard Ballinger. The new secretary shared neither Muir’s strict preservationist nor Pinchot’s pragmatic multiple use conservationist views on wilderness, and proposed opening them up to unfettered resource extraction. While Pinchot was opposed to a complete prohibition of logging in the national forests, he still believed that public timber should be sold only to small, family-run logging outfits, not corporations. Pinchot had envisioned a “working forest” for working people and small scale logging at the edge, preservation at the core. After a scandal in which Pinchot accused Ballinger of graft, specifically that the latter was enabling the exploitation of federal lands by private enterprise illegally, Taft dismissed Pinchot in 1910 and left the USFS under the direction of Pinchot’s protégé, William Greely.[57]

The contrast between Pinchot and Greely could be seen immediately. After a year of devastating forest fires in 1910, Greely, a deeply religious man, became obsessed with the prevention of them, and he claimed that the fires were the wrath of “Satan.” Under his watch, the forest service became primarily a fire department, and he accepted the prescription of the timber barons who argued that clearcut logging was the best preventive measure against them. As a result, Greely allowed the lumber trust to log public lands for private profit, and Pinchot’s well intentioned polices were scuttled. Upon seeing the results, Pinchot lamented, “So this is what saving the trees was all about. Absolute devastation. The Forest Service should absolutely declare against clear-cutting in Washington and Oregon as a defensive measure.”[58] His warnings went unheeded, however.

Conservation organizations, such as the Sierra Club, protested the wholesale destruction of the forests, but by this time, among labor unions, the IWW was one of the few to likewise echo the environmentalists’ warnings. During Greely’s tenure, the IWW’s many periodicals published articles and editorials warning of the threat to the long term sustainability of the great forests of the Pacific Northwest at the hands of the greedy lumber trust who was mowing them down all for the sake of profit and greed. One article from this time “denounced the ‘totally destructive’ character of then-current methods of reforestation, and pointed out that under the administration of workers’ self-management that the IWW proposed, such thoughtless destruction would be inconceivable.” Another “called for immediate ‘conservation action’ to stop the lumber companies’ ‘criminal and wholly unnecessary wastage’ of forests: ‘Nothing but mute stumps over thousands of acres…Where is it going to end?’”[59] However, criticism of Corporate Timber’s rapacious logging wasn’t limited to environmentalists, the IWW, or progressive officials. Even some former lumber barons themselves began to lament the monster they had spawned. For example, in 1912, E. C. Williams, who had been one of the four original founders of the first commercial sawmill in Mendocino County on the coast observed the effects of clearcutting and bemoaned the destruction to the local environment he witnessed firsthand.[60]

* * * * *

Even though the power of the timber corporations grew, the IWW grew in opposition to it, but they still lacked a viable organizational model necessary advance their struggle to the next level. That would soon change. In 1915, the IWW’s Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO), provided the inspiration and organizational type that the timber workers needed. The AWO was the IWW’s first true industrial union, with branches rather than autonomous locals, and a roving delegate system—which allowed the union to initiate and organize workers at the jobsite or in transit to it (which was often achieved by means of “riding the rails”, out of economic necessity, hence the IWW’s cultural association with hoboes). The AWO organized on the job and proved most effective, growing to perhaps over 100,000 members at one point before the introduction of the combine facilitated the rapid automation of harvest work and resulted in the AWO’s eventual decline by the early 1920s. The IWW did not decline overall, however, and much of the efforts that went into building the AWO were instead channeled into organizing industrial unions in other industries, including timber. Since harvests were seasonal, some of these harvest workers also went to work in the woods and brought the AWO’s organizing methods along with them.[61]

The efforts bore fruit almost overnight. In the autumn of 1916, approximately 5,000 IWW lumbermen who were part of the by then 22,000 strong AWO, voted to form their own, similarly structured Lumber Workers Industrial Union (LWIU).[62] The LWIU aimed to organize all the workers in the lumber camps and sawmills and to win the eight-hour day, and by so doing abolish unemployment in the lum­ber industry, thereby making it impossible for the employers to discriminate by its use of blacklists and job sharks against the active workers and to protect each worker on their job.[63] Once formed, the LWIU immediately launched a campaign to organize all workers in that industry throughout the Pacific Northwest, which they attempted in spite of increasing efforts at repression by the lumber companies and the complaint governments of the region, including the infamous Everett Massacre which took place on November 5, 1916, in which five Wobblies were murdered by police and many others wounded.[64]

The capitalists’ fear was based on the very real threat that the IWW might win and take over the means of production, at least in the agricultural and lumber industries. The employers’ backlash only strengthened the LWIU’s resolve and faced with an ever increasingly militant workforce, the lumber corporations turned to the state governments to maintain their economic grip on the Pacific Northwest. A number of states, starting with Idaho, on March 14, 1917, passed “Criminal Syndicalism” laws which were ostensibly intended to fight those who advocated “crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform,” which for all intents and purposes meant the IWW. The Wobblies, of course, did none of these things, but the timber barons spread no shortage of falsehoods and innuendos suggesting otherwise, which was dutifully parroted by the capitalist press. The other states of the Pacific Northwest soon passed similar “Criminal Syndicalism” and “Criminal Anarchy” laws.[65] California was no exception, passing their version in 1919, which was used specifically to try and thwart the efforts of IWW members to organize lumber workers, such as Oscar Erickson who was tried twice and acquitted by a hung jury in the Mendocino County town of Ukiah in 1924.[66]

Still the IWW continued to organize more or less undaunted. In the Spring of 1917, the union announced plans for a strike centered in, but not limited to, northwestern Washington for various demands, including clean bunkhouses with mattresses; table and chairs; 8 hours work with no work on Sunday and Christmas; a living wage of $60 per month; no discrimination; free hospital service; and hiring from a union hall.[67] The AFL’s various timber and sawmill workers’ locals also voted, independently, to strike for the eight hour day, no doubt influenced by the IWW’s call, hoping to prevent their own thunder from being stolen.[68] In response to the strike call, the employers formed an association known as the Lumbermen’s Protective Association (LPA) to protect their interests and resist the strike in concert.[69] The strike began in the lumber camps and rapidly spread to the rest of Washington, Idaho, and Montana and several sawmills. The sheer lack of timber caused those camps and mills that hadn’t joined the strike to halt production anyway.[70]

The lumber barons had never faced a near total loss of control such as this before, and they used every means of they could at their disposal. Sometimes they appealed to the strikers on nationalistic grounds, but they still couldn’t recruit anywhere near enough strike breaking scabs to even create the pretense of production. Moses Alexander, the governor of Idaho, who was sympathetic to the lumber bosses, toured the lumber camps of his state appealing to the strikers’ “patriotism” to try and end the strike, but they wouldn’t budge. More often than not, however, the employing class turned to repression. Armed thugs harassed strikers. Spies working undercover attempted to undermine the strike by causing dissension and disruption from within its ranks. Law enforcement agents subservient to the lumber trust arrested and jailed hundreds of strikers, including those perceived to be its “leaders”. The press editorialized against the strike and its organizers, even in some cases spreading false information such as claiming the strike had ended, when it hadn’t. Vigilante mobs stirred up by the lumber companies and anti union propaganda attacked and sometimes destroyed IWW halls. In Troy, Montana, one jailed striker was burned to death.[71]

In most cases, the LPA directed most of these efforts, sometimes overtly, but often under the cover of “law and order” and “patriotism”, a matter of great concern since the United States had entered World War I by this time. One lie in particular, spread by the LPA in the late summer and fall of 1917, was that the strike had been covertly instigated and financed to the tune of $100,000 per month by German agents, including particularly Kaiser Wilhelm himself, seeking to obstruct the harvesting of spruce being used by the United States government to manufacture war planes. This claim was demonstrably false. The summer had been especially dry throughout the region, and striking IWW members had joined firefighting crews—and sometimes, being the most experienced woodsmen, served as foremen, saving millions of dollars of standing timber, including spruce. In Missoula, Montana, fire fighters had been hired directly by the government from IWW hiring halls, and the sworn testimony of the US Government states that the strikers had been not just helpful, but absolutely essential to the firefighting efforts, saving millions of acres of forests, including spruce. The US fire Warden repeatedly described the Wobblies serving on his crews as “the most efficient and reliable men he ever had.” Yet this detail went unreported by the capitalist press.[72]

In fact, the employers’ claim about Spruce was actually a cover story to distract attention away from their own graft. Another detail that escaped their attention was the fact that very little spruce, which grows primarily in Oregon, was affected by the strike, and the strike didn’t involve much of that state.[73] The press also ignored the fact that the lumber magnates deliberately held back spruce production to discredit the strikers.[74] The Spokane Press did report that before the war, the price of spruce had been $16 per thousand feet, but during the war, the price rose to at least $116, and sometimes as much as $650. Further investigations by the Seattle Union Record revealed that this price increase was a case of deliberate gouging by the timber corporations. The Woodrow Wilson administration even admitted that the accusation against the IWW was a bald faced lie, because Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker expressly requested that the lumber trust grant the eight-hour day, but his demands were ignored.[75]

That’s not to suggest, however, that the IWW never provided their adversaries with the ammunition that the latter in turn used against the union. For several years, the Wobblies had advocated ca’canny, which they often also described as “sabotage”, as a tactic to advance its collective struggles at the point of production, but to the IWW and the employing class this meant entirely different things. To the Wobblies it meant the conscious and collective withdrawal of efficiency at the point of production, such as an entire work crew, shop, or even industry working more slowly or inefficiently to slow down the pace of work, thus impacting the employers’ bottom line and improving their working conditions. In other words, it was an economic strategy intended for the working class to use as a tool to gain the upper hand. Sabotage described thusly in detail had been made most famous by IWW organizers Walker C. Smith[76], and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn[77].

To the employing class, however, sabotage meant the wanton destruction of property, or at least it was framed this way, and this misconception was used to further discredit the Wobblies. Members debated the issue, and the consensus was that the tactic of collectively withdrawing efficiency at the point of production itself was justifiable, but the term “sabotage” represented a ball and chain that the employers could shackle to the organization thus undermining its reputation among the working class.[78] IWW member Ralph Chaplin, facing “criminal syndicalism” charges later recalled:

The prosecution used the historic meaning of the word to prove that we drove spikes into logs, copper tacks into fruit trees, and practiced all manner of arson, dynamiting and wanton destruction. Thanks to our own careless use of the word, the prosecution’s case seemed plausible to the jury and the public.”[79]

The lies spread by the timber bosses brought about increased repression and vigilante mob activity, but still the strikers stood their ground. There was only one problem that stood in their way, and that was the lack of funds to sustain a prolonged strike, and the employers were stubbornly refusing to give in for fear that the IWW would continue to gain control over the lumber industry and spark a political and economic revolution. Over time, the bosses would find a way to eventually recruit enough scabs to replace the strikers permanently. Some farsighted Wobblies recognized this threat and began advocating that the IWW transfer the strike to the job itself. The union would appear to end the strike, but while back on the job, the loggers and mill workers would engage in various forms of (non destructive) sabotage at the point of production (though, of course, now they didn’t refer to such actions as sabotage). The workers would be paid in wages and in meals, but they would have just as much, if not a greater economic impact. This would also make it harder for the employers to hire scabs.[80]

By the middle of September 1917, the strike ostensibly ended, and the press spun it as a victory for the lumber bosses, but while back in the camps, the workers slowed their pace considerably. Instead of working ten hours, the crews would collectively cease work after eight. Although the employers would usually fire the entire crew on the spot, and hire a new crew a few days later. The latter being just as sympathetic to the goals of the IWW, however, would repeat the actions again. Meanwhile the first crew was duplicating these efforts elsewhere, as well as they could manage. The bosses could not defeat this “strike” by the workers’ starvation or attrition. Authorities could not single out and arrest the “leaders” because there was no way to identify who they were, and even when they tried, the arrests only further fanned the flames of the timber workers discontent. The employers could also not afford to organize a “general lockout”, because there was a high demand for lumber due to the prolonged conventional strike that had preceded the new “strike on the job”, and they had crowed so loudly about the disruption to spruce production. The IWW’s direct action at the point of production persisted throughout the winter. The employers were—temporarily at least—confounded.[81]

The timber corporations found a temporary solution due to a fortuitous circumstance. The US Government had placed Colonel Brice Disque in charge of spruce production on behalf of the war department. The colonel happened to be sympathetic to the LPA, and at their behest, he agreed to work with them to “stabilize the lumber industry” which meant undermining the IWW.[82] Disque began this task by creating a company union called the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen (LLLL). Many of the lumber workers, particularly IWW members, referred to the new so-called union as “Little Loyalty and Loot”, though they often joined it anyway.[83] Disque made appeals to the workers’ sense of “patriotism,” but he didn’t just stop there. If the Colonel couldn’t persuade the workers to join, he would force them to do so by dispatching his soldiers to work in the lumber camps. Disque ostensibly did this to aid in spruce production, but most of the soldiers were placed in logging camps that had nothing to do with the harvesting and production of it.[84] Membership in the LLLL was effectively compulsory, and those that refused it were accused of being German spies and traitors, fired, and beaten by soldiers under the Colonel’s command. At least one man who spoke out against the LLLL was found dead by hanging the next morning.[85] It was clearly obvious that Disque’s actual purpose was the quashing of the Wobblies’ strike on the job.

The lumber companies in their insatiable greed sabotaged themselves, however. Not content with reining in the IWW, they took advantage of the soldiers as well, and the latter responded by adopting the Wobblies’ slowdown tactics. The employers were once again paralyzed. There was little choice left to the LPA but to concede defeat. To great fanfare, on March 1, 1918 Colonel Disque issued a statement on behalf of the timber corporations making the eight hour day official.[86] The bosses, their press, and many historians, including historian Robert L. Tyler, who wrote a fairly extensive account about the IWW’s struggles in the woods, have assigned credit for this victory to everyone but the Wobblies.[87] The IWW, on the other hand, never hesitated to claim credit where they believed it was due:

This was one of the most successful strikes in the history of the labor movement. The efficacy of the tactics used is further emphasized by the fact that it was directed against one of the most powerful combinations of capital in the world. Two hours had been cut from the work day. Wages had been raised. Bath houses, wash houses and drying rooms had been installed. The companies were forced to furnish bedding. Old-fashioned, unsanitary bunk-houses were displaced by small, clean, well lighted and ventilated ones. Instead of bunks filled with dirty hay, beds, clean mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows changed weekly were furnished. The food was improved a hundred per cent. In short, practically all demands were won.

The lumber barons claimed they had granted these concessions ‘voluntarily’ ‘for patriotic reasons.’ In reality, they had granted nothing. All they had done was to bow to the inevitable, and officially recognize the eight-hour day after the lumber workers had taken it by direct action. The LLLL also claimed credit for the victory. This was the joke of the season. A skunk might as well claim credit for the perfume of a flower garden, after having failed to pollute it. At the present writing there is scarcely a trace left of the LLLL. The last feeble squeal heard from this conglomeration of boss-lovers was when they went on record in Portland as favoring a reduction of wages.”[88]

For the first time ever, the power of the lumber trust had been effectively counterbalanced, and the bosses were deeply concerned that the IWW would gain the upper hand. No doubt the employers also worried that the Wobblies’ concern for the environment might draw support from their conservationist critics. A mass based, populist workers movement could, just possibly, bring about the very revolution the socialists and IWW sought to incite, and put an end to the robber barons’ reign. The implications were staggering and as far as the bosses were concerned, something had to be done. The IWW was well aware of this and readied themselves to complete “the historic mission of the working class.” History, however, took several unforeseen turns, and—much to the lumber trust’s relief—the Wobblies vision would be indefinitely delayed.


[1] Foster, John Bellamy, The Limits of Environmentalism Without Class: Lessons from the Ancient Forest Struggle of the Pacific Northwest, New York, NY, Monthly Review Press (Capitalism, Nature, Socialism series), 1993, Part 2, “Ecological Catastrophe and Social Conflict”.

[2] “Redwood Summer, an Issues Primer”, by Bill Meyers, Ideas & Action, Fall 1990.

[3] “Chronology of California North Coast Timber Industry Activity 1767-1988”, by R. Bartley and S. Yoneda, Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 25 and August 1, 1990.

[4] Meyers, op. cit.

[5] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.


[7] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[8] “Log Export History: Mill Jobs Exported”, by Edie Butler, Hard Times, Vol. 3, #1, February 1983.

[9] Meyers, op. cit.

[10] “Forest Giant”, by Eric Quammen, National Geographic, December 2012.

[11] “Federal Land Management: Observations on a Possible Move of the Forest Service into the Department of the Interior”, GAO report, February 11, 2009.

[12] “The History of Forestry in America”, page 710, by W.N. Sparhawk in Trees: Yearbook of Agriculture, 1949. Washington, DC.

[13] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit. Unfortunately, according to radical ecologist Mark Dowie, Muir’s motivations were tinged with Eurocentric colonialism (Sun Magazine, August 2013), specifically the eviction of indigenous Miwoks, Mono Paiutes, and Ahwahnechee who migrated in and out of the valley seasonally subsisting off the land in a more or less harmonious, symbiotic relationship—quite unlike the European lumber baron settler-colonizers the Sierra Club was supposedly fighting.

[14] Fox, Stephen, John Muir and His Legacy, Boston, MA, Little Brown, 1981, pages 139-47.


[16] Rowan, James: The IWW in the Lumber Industry, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1922.

[17] Smith, the Hon. Herbert Knox, The Lumber Industry, Part 1: Standing Timber, US Government, Department of Labor, 1919, reprinted in Rowan, James, op. cit.

[18] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, leaflet by the IWW’s Lumber Workers Industrial Union 120, ca. 1927.

[19] Rowan, op. cit.

[20] The Great Lumber Strike of Humboldt County, 1935 by Frank Onstine, portions of which were reprinted in the Country Activist, September 1985.

[21] Rowan, op. cit.

[22] “The Origin of the Hiring Hall and Free Speech Fights”, by Utah Phillips, Making Speech Free, music and spoken word album, IWW, recorded May 7, 1999 in San Francisco, CA.

[23] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, op. cit.

[24] Rowan, op. cit.

[25] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, op. cit.

[26] “The Public Outlaw Show: Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport”, Dave Chism and Bob Cramer, interviewed by Dan Fortson on KMUD FM, November 27, 1997.

[27] Detailed in Cornford, Daniel, Workers and Dissent in the Redwood Empire, Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press, © 1987.

[28] Kennedy, James, The Lumber Industry and its Workers, Second Edition, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1922.

[29] Fortson, op. cit.

[30] Cornford, op. cit.

[31] Fortson, op. cit.

[32] Kennedy, op. cit.

[33] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit..

[34] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, op. cit.

[35] Thompson, Fred, and Jon Bekken, The Industrial Workers of the World: It’s First 100 Years, 1905-2005, Cincinnati, OH, Industrial Workers of the World, © 2006, pages 1-16

[36] “The IWW and the IWA: The Struggle for Radical Unionism in the Northwest”, by Troy Laried Garner, Ecology Center Newsletter, September 1990.

[37] St John, Vincent, The IWW: its History, Structure and Methods, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1917.

[38] Haywood, William D., The General Strike, IWW, speech given March 16, 1911 and Chaplin, Ralph, The General Strike, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1933.

[39] St John, op. cit.

[40] Thomspon and Bekken, op. cit., pages 1-16

[41] Garner, op. cit.

[42] Cornford, op. cit.

[43] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[44] Rowan, op. cit.

[45] Garner, op. cit.

[46] Rowan, op. cit.

[47] Kennedy, op. cit.

[48] Roediger, David R. ed., Covington Hall: Labor Struggles in the Deep South & Other Writings, Chicago, IL, Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1998.

[49] Kennedy, op. cit.

[50] Rowan, op. cit.

[51] Kennedy, op. cit.

[52] Detailed in Duda, John, ed. Wanted: Men to Fill the Jails of Spokane!, Fighting for Free Speech with the Hobo Agitators of the I.W.W., Chicago, IL, Charles H Kerr & Co., © 2009.

[53] Phillips, op. cit.

[54] Green, Archie, et. al. ed., The Big Red Songbook, Chicago, IL, Charles H Kerr & Co., © 2007

[55] Duda, op. cit.

[56] Kennedy, op. cit.

[57] John T. Ganoe, “Some Constitutional and Political Aspects of the Ballinger-Pinchot Controversy”, The Pacific Historical Review, 3 (3) (September 1934), page 323.

[58] Egan, Timothy, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America, New York, NY, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008, page 281. Emphasis added.

[59] “Earth First!ers, Meet the IWW”, by x322339, Industrial Worker, May 1988.

[60] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[61] Rowan, op. cit.

[62] Rowan, op. cit.

[63] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, op. cit.

[64] Detailed in Smith, Walker C., The Everett Massacre, a History of Class Struggle in the Lumber Industry, Chicago, IL, IWW Publishing Bureau, 1917.

[65] Rowan, op. cit.

[66] Bartley and Yoneda, op. cit.

[67] “The Dawning of a New Day”, by Roanne Withers, Industrial Worker, July 1990.

[68] Todes, Charlotte, Labor and Lumber, New York, NY, International Publishers, © 1931, pages 163-64.

[69] “Lumber Workers: You Need Organization”, op. cit.

[70] Kennedy, op. cit.

[71] Kennedy, op. cit.

[72] Rowan, op. cit.

[73] Rowan, op. cit.

[74] Kennedy, op. cit.

[75] Rowan, op. cit.

[76] Smith, Walker C., Sabotage: Its History, Philosophy & Function, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1913.

[77] Flynn, Elizabeth G., Sabotage: the Conscious Withdrawal of the Workers’ Industrial Efficiency, Chicago, IL, Industrial Workers of the World, 1916.

[78] Foner, Philip S. History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Volume VII: Labor and World War I 1914-1918, New York, NY, International Publishers, 1987, pages 246-63.

[79] Chaplin, Ralph, Wobbly: The Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1948.

[80] Kennedy, op. cit.

[81] Kennedy, op. cit.

[82] Garner, op. cit.

[83] Rowan, op. cit.

[84] Kennedy, op. cit.

[85] Rowan, op. cit.

[86] Kennedy, op. cit.

[87] Tyler, Robert, Rebels of the Woods: The IWW in the Pacific Northwest, Eugene, University of Oregon Books, 1967, pages 85-111. Tyler’s assessment of the situation is extremely dubious, if not intellectually dishonest. He argued that the class collaborationism of the LLLL won the eight hour day based on the later decline of the IWW—ignoring the various factors that lead to the latter, all the while refusing to acknowledge that the LLLL would never have been created in the first place if it weren’t for the class struggle oriented unionism of the IWW. Tyler also admits that the LLLL all but disintegrated a few years after its formation, and yet he argued that the workers favored the latter’s class collaborationism. Such a contradiction cannot honestly be reconciled.

[88] Kennedy, op. cit.

Tags: Redwood UprisingJudi BariIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)Earth First!Earth First! - IWW Local 1Redwood Summerecological movements and organizationsmovements, unions, and organizationscapitalism, colonialism, and fascismtimber workerstimber capitaliststree spikingEF!-IWW Local 1 timber workersIWW timber workersNon IWW timber workers friendly with Judi BariGeorgia-Pacific (GP)Louisiana-Pacific (LP)Pacific-Lumber (PALCO)MAXXAMCharles HurwitzHarry MerloT Marshall HahnCaliforniaHumboldt CountyMendocino CountyJudi Bari Bombing (May 24 1990)bookspublicationsgreen unionismgreen syndicalismjust transition

Redwood Uprising: Introduction

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 00:00

By Steve Ongerth

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.

—Martin Luther King Jr.

I know, I know. I need to write a book about all this. Fighting to save the redwoods, building alliances with the loggers, getting car bombed and finding out what we’re up against not just the timber industry but also the FBI. Then coming back home and ending up back on the front lines again. I fully intend to write about it eventually, but it’s hard to write about something when you’re still in the middle of it.”

—Judi Bari, introduction to Timber Wars, 1994

“All this,” is a very complex and intriguing story (not to mention a call to action), and while most people have never heard it, a great many are at least partially aware of its defining moment.

On the morning of May 24, 1990, two activists, Judi Bari and her friend and comrade Darryl Cherney, set out from Oakland, California, while on a tour to organize support for a campaign they had organized called Redwood Summer. They were part of the radical environmental movement known as Earth First!, which had a reputation for militant tactics, including the sabotaging of logging and earth moving machinery as well as spiking trees—the act of driving large nails into standing trees in order to deter logging operations. The previous year in Arizona, five environmentalists, including Peg Millett and Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman, had been arrested and charged by the FBI for a conspiracy to sabotage power lines in protest against nuclear power. Some welcomed Earth First!’s uncompromising reputation. Others denounced them as reckless, or even as terrorists.

According to the mainstream media, Earth First!’s radical agenda earned them the animosity of the timber workers whose jobs the environmentalists supposedly threatened. They were described as “outside agitators” (among many other things) who had “polarized” the timber dependent communities of northwestern California’s redwood region—historically known as the “Redwood Empire”, but more recently as the “North Coast”—with their militant and uncompromising “environmental extremism.” Their alleged hard-line anti-logging stances were seen as too extreme even by most environmentalists, and they supposedly stood upon the radical fringes of the ecology movement. Redwood Summer was reportedly planned as a summer-long campaign of direct actions by these “fringe” environmentalists to thwart the harvesting of old growth redwood timber in northwestern California, specifically Humboldt, Mendocino, and Sonoma Counties.

On May 24, however, Bari’s and Cherney’s planned destination was Santa Cruz County, where—just one month previously—power lines had supposedly been sabotaged by unknown perpetrators calling themselves the “Earth Night Action Group”. Just before 11:55 AM a bomb in Bari’s car exploded, nearly killing her and injuring Cherney. Within minutes the FBI and Oakland Police arrived on the scene and arrested both of them as they were being transported to Highland Hospital. The authorities called them dangerous terrorists and accused the pair of knowingly transporting the bomb for use in some undetermined act of environmental sabotage when it had accidentally detonated. The media spun the event as the arrest of two potentially violent environmental extremists.

* * * * *

In truth, however, Bari and Cherney were innocent. Earth First! was radical and militant, certainly, but they were also steadfastly nonviolent. Redwood Summer, far from being a campaign of terror, was modeled after Mississippi Freedom Summer and its original name was Mississippi Summer of the California Redwoods. The organizers of the latter had already renounced the tactic of tree spiking and had adopted a strict nonviolence code, based on a similar one adopted by the SNCC in the former. They had routinely been the victims of violence but had consistently answered that with nonviolence. Further, Redwood Summer was not anti-logging or even anti-worker. It was anti-
logging, and it sought—among other things--to draw attention to the plight of timber workers who were, according to Judi Bari, as much the victims of the clearcutting and liquidation logging practiced by the three principal timber corporations dominating the region (Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific, and Pacific Lumber) as the forests themselves.

Bari and Cherney were not only Earth First!ers, they were dues paying members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Wobblies, who had—in 1917—won the eight hour day through their radical point-of-production oriented unionism in spite of incredible opposition from the timber corporations then. Indeed, even some of the timber workers whom the media claimed were the sworn enemies of Earth First! were also members of the IWW and covertly working with Bari and Cherney. There were even a handful of timber workers who had openly declared their alliance with Earth First! and their support of Redwood Summer.

Furthermore, Bari and Cherney were completely unaware that they had been transporting an armed explosive, and investigations soon proved that the bomb was most likely intended to murder Bari while at the same time make it look like she had been knowingly transporting it to use in some act of industrial sabotage (even though it actually wasn’t). Following the bombing, the FBI and Oakland Police went to desperate lengths to try and “prove” the bombing victims were guilty, even to the point of providing false leads and manufacturing evidence. As for the Arizona arrests, these had been a clear case of entrapment by the FBI, by its own admission, and one of the organizers of the action that had led to the arrests had been an undercover FBI agent who had infiltrated Earth First! with the expressed purpose of discrediting the environmental movement. The bombing of Bari and Cherney had eerily similar “footprints” all over it.

* * * * *

Why did all of this happen and who bombed Judi Bari? The organizers of Redwood Summer (which included Earth First!ers, Wobblies, environmentalists, labor union members, and activists of all stripes—most of them residents of the North Coast) as well as historians have tried to answer both questions ever since that fateful day.

Who” remains unknown as of the writing of this book, a process which began in the months following Bari’s death on March 2, 1997, seven years after the bombing due to inoperable cancer. Many hypotheses have been put forward, but still no one has a complete answer, and people disagree on those theories.

IWW singer and songwriter Utah Phillips, a close friend and ally of Bari and Cherney had once told them, “The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.” Darryl Cherney, himself an adept and clever songsmith, took those words to heart and penned the following lyrics that pointed fingers and named names of the possible suspects, a song which he titled, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”

Now Judi Bari is a union organizer [1],
A Mother Jones at the Georgia-Pacific Mill,
She fought for the sawmill workers,
Hit by that PCB spill [2].
T. Marshall Hahn’s calling G-P shots from Atlanta,
Don Nelson sold him the union long ago,
They weren’t gonna have no Wobbly,
Running their logging show [3].
So they spewed out their hatred,
And they laid out their scam,
Jerry Philbrick called for violence [4],
It was no secret what they planned;

So I ask you now...
Who Bombed Judi Bari?
I know you’re out there still
Have you seen her broken body
Or the spirit you can’t kill?

Now Judi Bari is a feminist organizer,
Ain’t no man gonna keep that woman down,
She defended the abortion clinic,
In fascist Ukiah town;
Calvary Baptist Church called for its masses,
Camo-buddies lined up in the pews,
You can see all of their faces,
In the Ukiah Daily News [5];
And they spewed out their hatred,
As Reverend Boyles laid out their scam,
Bill Staley called for violence,
It was no secret what they planned [6];


Now Judi Bari is an Earth First! organizer,
The California Redwoods are her home,
She called for Redwood Summer,
Where the owl and the black bear roam [7];
Charlie Hurwitz he runs MAXXAM out of Houston [8],
Harry Merlo runs L-P from Portland town [9],
They’re the men they call King Timber,
They know how to cut you down;
And Shep Tucker[10] spewed their hatred,
As Candy Boak laid out their scam [11],
John Campbell called for violence [12],
It was no secret what they planned;


Now Judi Bari is the mother of two children,
A pipe bomb went ripping through her womb,
She cries in pain at night time,
In her Willits cabin room;
FBI is back again with COINTELPRO,
Richard Held is the man they know they trust,
With Lieutenant Sims his henchman,
It’s a world of boom and bust;
But we’ll answer with non-violence,
For seeking justice is our plan,
And we’ll avenge our wounded comrade,
As we defend the ravaged land [13];

Chorus (x2) [14]

Judi Bari attempted to solve the mystery herself while continuing to fight to save the redwood forests of the North Coast as well as fight for the livelihoods of the timber workers and challenge the timber corporations that she and the other organizers of Redwood Summer were liquidating the very forests upon which the economy and ecology of the North Coast depended. Bari never got around to writing her book, though she was able to cobble together a collection of her shorter writings in a compilation which she named Timber Wars (after an article she wrote for the Industrial Worker, the official newspaper of the IWW seven months before the bombing) and self published in 1993, until a small left-liberal publisher, Common Courage, of Monroe, Maine agreed to produce it commercially in 1994.

Timber Wars shed much light on who and why, but (by Bari’s own admission), it fell short of fully answering the questions completely. She was convinced that the bombing was part of a conspiracy involving the three timber corporations (referred to often in this book as “Corporate Timber” collectively for the sake of clarity) with at least the complicity (and quite possibly the involvement) of the FBI, at least, and quite possibly the agency’s involvement. The expressed purpose of the conspiracy was to discredit her, Earth First!, its allies, and Redwood Summer. Bari offered ample evidence to support her conclusion, but her theories were incomplete, even if verifiable, and many of her critics pooh-poohed them.

In spite of Bari’s writings, there were some who still insisted—in spite of the overwhelming evidence against the possibility (presented in this book, of course)—that either Bari or Cherney, or both of them, were indeed guilty and somehow managed to hoodwink all of their family, friends, and allies into believing that they were innocent. Such theories were and are easily disproven.

There were those who believed that Bari and Cherney had been targeted by a lone nut, perhaps a political reactionary, such as ex-NFL football player, Bill Staley, who disdained the two activists’ radical environmentalist and leftist political orientation. Certainly both Bari and Cherney accepted that this was indeed a possibility, but an unlikely one given the lengths to which the FBI and Oakland Police attempted to frame the bombing victims as the bombing’s suspects.

Meanwhile, some suggested that the bomber was somebody close to either one or both of the pair, perhaps an activist who had a personal score to settle with either or both of them, or perhaps an ex-lover. For example, following Bari’s death, some theorized that Judi Bari’s ex husband, Mike Sweeney, might have been the bomber. The first person of any significance to propose this theory was liberal documentarian, and former child actor Steve Talbot (most famous for his role as “Gilbert” on Leave it to Beaver) in his decent, though still very flawed documentary “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” which aired on PBS TV station KQED in San Francisco in May of 1991. However, Bari herself dispelled this theory simply by pointing out that “Mike was taking care of my children at his girlfriend’s house when the bomb was planted, and she can verify that Mike did not leave her house at any time when he would have had an opportunity to place the bomb.”[15] Bari was nothing if not highly intelligent and precise in her logic.

Bari and Cherney were convinced enough to sue the FBI and Oakland Police for discrimination and wrongful arrest, violations of their First and Fourth Amendment Rights. The case took over 11 years to run its course, involving much discovery—despite constant stonewalling (through the use of procedural motions intended to delay, misdirect, and bog down the case as much as possible) by the FBI. Though Bari did not live to witness the outcome, on June 11, 2002, a federal jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their landmark civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers and awarded them $4.4 million in damages. Nowhere in the case did either side suggest that Bari’s ex husband had any role in the bombing.

Still, the theory that Sweeney was the bomber has taken on a life of its own, generating much controversy in recent years. A group of Bari’s former associates—including Anderson Valley Advertiser editor and publisher, Bruce Anderson (the name is coincidental) and the late leftist intellectual Alexander Cockburn—have banded together and even gone as far as claiming that Bari had known that Sweeney had planted the bomb in her car but dared not speak out of fear for her life, because her ex husband was violently abusive towards her (hence their divorce), and/or he had some secret knowledge about criminal acts that he, himself, had carried out with Bari’s complicity, thus making her an accomplice to a crime. Anderson, et. al. claimed that the lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police was a smokescreen to cover up their own conspiracy. They argued that the only reason why the FBI and Oakland Police had been found guilty at all was due to their own incompetence. The advocates of this theory claimed for several years after Bari’s death that they would expose the “truth” of this claim and their efforts finally culminated in a book by Kate Coleman called, The Secret Wars of Judi Bari: A Car Bomb, The Fight For The Redwoods, and the Death of Earth First!, published on January 25, 2005 by the extreme right wing publisher Encounter Books, owned by ex Ramparts co-editor and born-again reactionary Peter Collier.

As it turned out, Coleman’s book not only falls short of the mark as far as proving its case, it doesn’t even come remotely close to the target. It is full of errors in fact as well as unproven rumors, innuendos, and outright falsehoods that are so blatant they have spawned at least one website,, debunking them page-by-page, line-by-line (that the site was produced by Mike Sweeney himself is immaterial, as the facts he presents—unlike Coleman and her associates—are verified and speak for themselves). Almost nobody has reviewed this book favorably, and most consider it to be little more than a right wing hatchet job intended to discredit Bari and all she stood for, throw doubts on the case against the FBI and Oakland Police, and further discredit the movement the culminated in Redwood Summer (not to mention line Coleman’s and Collier’s pockets).[16] The motivation for Coleman and Collier is very easy to discern, and that is greed. It is far more lucrative, in a capitalist economy at least, for one to serve the forces of reaction than it is to challenge them head on. Anderson’s motivation is far more personal. In spite of his professed leftist views, Anderson had (among others) a considerable blind spot when it came to matters of gender equality, a point on which he and Bari disagreed vehemently for years until their ultimate falling out in 1993.

Bruce Anderson’s own younger brother, Robert Anderson, is among those who have debunked and denounced his Brother’s and Coleman’s claims, stating:

(My brother’s) approach to the bombing is particularly odd considering that (he) supported Redwood Summer and Judi Bari during that intense political chapter in the history of the Northcoast. It’s as if (he) has forgotten what that period was like, how full of political tension, threats and bullying by the timber industry and its supporters.”[17]

Indeed, Robert Anderson has correctly identified the proverbial “elephant in the room”. To know who
(and for that matter, who didn’t) bomb Judi Bari (and Darryl Cherney), it is much more important to determine why they bombed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. This book does not identify who bombed Judi Bari any more than Bari’s own book, or even Kate Coleman’s, but it does explain why. In fact, it picks up the scent of the trail that Bari herself had been following, but whose endpoint she never reached due to her untimely death. When asked, in 1995, why she was bombed, she declared:

(My) activities came at the intersection of two campaigns: one of the campaigns was timber industry and Wise Use, which both historically are riddled with thugs—(during) the (height of the radical) labor movement—all through the history of timber. I think it goes with all extractive corporations: the worse they do to the earth, the worse they do to the people, and the timber industry has a very long history of physical brutality to people who would oppose them. I think I was targeted by the timber industry because I was posing somewhat of a threat to them by exposing what was happening here in the redwoods, bringing it into a national forum so people could see it, and I think I was posing a threat to them by building alliances with the workers, by defining the problem as the community vs. these out-of-town corporations, instead of environmentalists versus loggers. I think I posed a threat to them just by restating the question in that manner.”[18]

And just what was it that Judi Bari threatened with her political activity? Corporate Timber had, by the time of the bombing, managed to convince a great many people that they managed America’s forests well and that even aged managed forests were healthy forests; that the capitalist business model was ideal for such forestry; that the timber industry provided good jobs; that they treated their workers well; that rural economies in forested regions depended upon the Corporate Timber business model; that where timber unions existed, they had achieved labor peace with the employers; that the industry planted more trees than they cut; that clearcutting was a viable—even beneficial—sustainable timber harvesting method; that environmentalists had “gone too far,” and had locked up plenty (if not too many) forests in parks; and that environmentalists were either elitists or “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs”, who were “outside” agitators with a nefarious, perhaps even “communistic” agenda which would result in the ultimate destruction of rural, timber dominant communities, such as the North Coast.

Bari maintained that none of these assertions—not a solitary one—came close to the truth, and that Corporate Timber through is sophisticated propaganda machine and slick P.R., aided dutifully by the Corporate Media, had crafted a paradigm where white was black, or rather—more accurately—yellow was green. Bari maintained that in fact the opposite contentions were in fact true and the conventional theories and models put forth by Corporate Timber were but a paper-thin veneer that could be readily exposed and challenged.

Skeptical readers might feel justified in pointing out that Judi Bari was not the first radical environmentalist to expose such official myths, and that is true enough, but there was something significantly different about her approach that made her a far more substantial threat to her adversaries. She fully integrated her radical environmentalism with class struggle at the point of production. There had been many who had opposed the destruction of ancient forests by incorporating direct action tactics and putting their bodies on the line, to the point of risking arrest or even violent repression. There had likewise, been many who had analyzed the destruction of the ancient forests in the context of class and political economy, few—if anyone (outside of Chico Mendes) had done both. Some, like writer Jeff Shantz, have referred to Bari’s approach as “green syndicalism”—which is a more or less accurate description, though she, herself called it “Revolutionary Ecology”. And her perspective wasn’t mere theory; she was actually beginning to put that theory into practice and it was working.

Bari believed, and I—dear reader—agree, that she was targeted because she represented a viable democratic, populist, grassroots challenge to the powers that be, in this case, Corporate Timber, and its established paradigm of total control over the redwood forests of California’s North Coast and by extension—as you will see in this book—America’s forests in general, the modern timber industry, and capitalism itself. Bari stood upon the crest of a wave of change that was poised to undermine the existing order, and she was more than willing to ride it to its conclusion. That wave was a confluence of both environmentalist and labor movements and, if left unchecked in its course, it could very well have washed away institutions, both “private” and “public” that were, by many people’s accounts, corrupt and rotten to their very core.

However, as Frederick Douglass once wrote, “power concedes nothing without a struggle,” and this was no exception. Bombing or no, connected or not, the movement which Judi Bari led had already faced enormous resistance and violence from the established powers and their enablers. In the face of this violence, Bari and her allies remained steadfastly and proudly
, and even that resolve challenged the powers that be. When it is understood why the bombing occurred, who specifically assumes far less significance than the forces which they represented.

Explaining why is no simple matter, however, and getting it all down in one place eluded all who have thus tried, including Judi Bari. Recently, Darryl Cherney and his friend Mary Liz Thompson have produced a thorough and excellent documentary, named Who Bombed Judi Bari? (a popular title, no doubt), largely based on the video graphed deposition of Judi Bari in preparation for the case against the FBI and Oakland Police. The film also attempts to answer “who” and “why”, and it comes closer than anyone else, but due to the limitations of the medium, cannot tell the whole story, the one that Bari had intended to tell. This book, hopefully, dear reader, tells that tale and provides the answers, but it also requests your patience in doing so. As stated in the quotation by Martin Luther King by which this narrative commences, the arc of history is indeed long, and this story begins, long ago.


[1] Detailed in Chapter 11.

[2] Detailed specifically in Chapter 14 and 26.

[3] Detailed in Chapters 14, 19, and 26.

[4] Detailed in Chapters 35 and 36.

[5] This is a conflation of Ukiah Daily Journal and Willits News, two publications of roughly similar, small-town, moderately conservative political orientation, composited here to fit the meter and rhyme.

[6] Detailed in Chapters 12 and 37.

[7] Detailed in Chapters 30-35.

[8] Maxxam acquired Pacific Lumber in a hostile takeover in 1985. Detailed throughout this book, beginning with Chapter 4.

[9] L-P is Louisiana Pacific. Detailed throughout the book, beginning with Chapter 3.

[10] In some variations, the name mentioned is “Don Nolan” rather than “Shep Tucker”. Shep Tucker was a spokesman for L-P

[11] Detailed in Chapters 12, 16, 32, 33, 35, and 36.

[12] John Campbell was the Vice President of Lumber Production and later the President of Pacific Lumber. The threat is mentioned specifically in Chapter 33.

[13] Detailed in Chapters 18, 36 and 37.

[14] Who Bombed Judi Bari?, lyrics by Darryl Cherney, featured on the album Timber, © by Darryl Cherney, 1991, and also Who Bombed Judi Bari? © by Darryl Cherney 1997, and in the IWW’s Little Red Song Book, 36th edition, published by the IWW Hungarian Literature Fund, 1995 (this last source juxtaposes verses three and four and misspells “Earth First!” as “Earthist.”

[15] “Who Bought Steve Talbot?”, by Judi Bari, Anderson Valley Advertiser, May 29, 1991.

[16] For most of these, see It is even more ironic given the fact that Bruce Anderson himself once stated, “Mike Sweeney certainly didn’t do it…the answer lies somewhere in the timber industry.” (in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, May 29, 1991).


[18] “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”, Judi Bari interviewed by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, Issue #89, 1995.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

Tags: Redwood UprisingJudi BariIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)Earth First!Earth First! - IWW Local 1Redwood Summerecological movements and organizationsmovements, unions, and organizationscapitalism, colonialism, and fascismtimber workerstimber capitaliststree spikingEF!-IWW Local 1 timber workersIWW timber workersNon IWW timber workers friendly with Judi BariGeorgia-Pacific (GP)Louisiana-Pacific (LP)Pacific-Lumber (PALCO)MAXXAMCharles HurwitzHarry MerloT Marshall HahnCaliforniaHumboldt CountyMendocino CountyJudi Bari Bombing (May 24 1990)bookspublicationsgreen unionismgreen syndicalismjust transition

PEERMail | Meeting the House Challenge in the Trenches

PEER - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:50

Meeting the House Challenge in the Trenches

Extreme right-wing control of the U.S. House of Representatives once again puts federal employees working to administer and enforce environmental and public health protections squarely on the front lines of a battle they did not choose.

The new House leadership has made no secret of its plan to target government agencies and their staff with endless document requests and subpoenas in its efforts to weaken the federal government and take down the Biden administration. Among the more disturbing developments out of the new House are:

    • The establishment of a “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federalization of the Federal Government” to investigate Department of Justice investigations.
    • The growing hostility to the basic mandates of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • The passage of rules that prohibit government employees from bringing agency lawyers to depositions ordered by the House.

With these changes, we anticipate not only continuing to litigate whistleblower cases, but also offering legal assistance for civil servants caught in the maelstrom created by these House investigations.

For thirty years, PEER has protected conscientious public servants while combatting politicized attacks on our environment and the federal merit system. With your help, PEER will rise to meet this challenge as well.

Scientific Integrity Evasions

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released its long awaited “Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice.” In the first of several critiques on the framework, PEER is raising concerns that the policy is vague and lacks truly independent enforcement mechanisms. Read More»

Supersonic Climate Debacle

PEER is asking that NASA conduct a rigorous, independent, and publicly accessible climate impact analysis of its Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) program, which, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, is embracing a new generation of supersonic air transport that may preclude the aviation industry from meeting its carbon neutrality goals. Read More»

The post PEERMail | Meeting the House Challenge in the Trenches appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

White House ‘Integrity’ Framework Draws Stiff Criticism From Whistleblowers

PEER - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 08:51

OSTP has touted several elements of the framework as major steps forward for integrity protections, such as “a first-ever Government-wide definition of scientific integrity, a roadmap of activities and outcomes to achieve an ideal state of scientific integrity, a Model Scientific Integrity Policy, as well as critical policy features and metrics that OSTP will use to iteratively assess agency progress.”

But in one of the earliest responses to the document, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) — the whistleblower group representing EPA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) staffers who claim they faced interference in new-chemical reviews from managers over a period of years, argues that the improvements fall far short of what is needed.

The group’s Jan. 23 statement says the framework “is full of lofty rhetoric” but “leaves gaping holes,” especially on penalties for violations, and fails to address several issues PEER has raised at EPA’s TSCA program and in other offices.

Read the PEER Story…

The post White House ‘Integrity’ Framework Draws Stiff Criticism From Whistleblowers appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Off-the-Charts PFAS in Maryland Biosolid Fertilizers

PEER - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 07:48

Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Tim Whitehouse, PEER,, (240) 247-0299
Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance,, (301) 461-9831
Steven Findlay, Sugarloaf Citizens Association,, (301) 908-8659



Off-the-Charts PFAS in Maryland Biosolid Fertilizers Call for Montgomery County Ban on Biosolids to Stem Water Contamination


Silver Spring, MD — Laboratory testing of biosolid fertilizers sold in Maryland has confirmed ultra-high levels of toxic per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to results released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER, the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, and the Sugarloaf Citizens Association are asking Montgomery County officials to prohibit the application of class A and B biosolids, such as Bloom fertilizer products, on county agriculture fields, golf courses and public lands to prevent further contamination of ground and surface waters.

PFAS from biosolids migrate to surface water and groundwater. They are also taken up by plants and ingested by humans and livestock. PFAS in biosolid fertilizers have led to shutdowns of dairies, ranches, and other farming operations in states from Maine to New Mexico.

PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. Virtually every PFAS studied for toxicity is associated with adverse health effects ranging from thyroid dysfunction to liver and kidney cancers. PFAS also are especially deleterious to children, causing problems from delayed development to decreased response to vaccines.

“These are some of the highest levels of PFAS in biosolids we have seen in the country,” stated PEER Executive Director Tim Whitehouse, a former enforcement attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and resident of Poolesville. “We are urging Montgomery County to take immediate steps to stop the use of contaminated sewage sludge on county farms and other lands.”

Eurofins Laboratory testing of Bloom biosolid fertilizer commissioned by PEER shows –

    • PFOA (a major form of PFAS) levels of 21 parts-per-billion (ppb). This is 5.3 million times higher than the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level for PFOA in drinking water, which is .004 parts- per-trillion;
    • PFOS (another major PFAS) levels of 26 ppb parts, an amount is that is 1.3 million times higher than EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory Level for PFOS in drinking water, which is .02 ppb; and
    • Dangerously high levels of other PFAS, such as PFHpA and PFBS, which were found at 65 ppb and 30 ppb, respectively.

Bloom fertilizer is used in northwest Montgomery County where much of this area, including Poolesville, is dependent on a sole source aquifer for drinking water, irrigation of croplands and support of livestock. Poolesville recently closed two drinking water wells due to high levels of PFOA and PFOS. While the source of this contamination is not known, Upper Montgomery County’s sole source aquifer is particularly vulnerable to contamination from biosolids because of the area’s thin soils and fractured bedrock.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the astronomically high levels of PFAS in these biosolids” said Caroline Taylor, Executive Director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance. “Spreading these toxic chemicals on our farmlands and in our neighborhoods threatens the communities and livelihoods of those living in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve.”

“In Montgomery County, people are purchasing biosolids without knowing they contain extremely high levels of these persistent and harmful chemicals,” added Steven Findlay, President of the Sugarloaf Citizens Association. “We need to do everything we can to protect our food and water from PFAS contamination.”


Read the PEER letter to Montgomery County officials

See summary of test results

View the full lab report

Look at threat posed by PFAS in biosolid fertilizers

The post Off-the-Charts PFAS in Maryland Biosolid Fertilizers appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Can air travel ever be ‘green’?

PEER - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 09:03

It’s certainly a challenge to find the right balance. While the new Boeing plane is getting the headlines, NASA is also planning a test flight this year of the X-59 “quiet supersonic technology” aircraft, Flight Global reports. The idea — as the name suggests — is to eventually resume the era of civilian supersonic air travel that ended 20 years ago when the Concorde stopped flying. But that project is getting pushback from environmentalists. One group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a January letter that “supersonic aircraft consume many times more fuel and produce many times the amount of pollution as current commercial flights,” which is a real climate problem. NASA says it’s addressing “multiple challenges to making commercial supersonic flight a reality” — including carbon emissions.

Read the PEER Story…

The post Can air travel ever be ‘green’? appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Biden New Science Integrity Plan: Buzzwords and Evasions

PEER - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 06:57

Monday, January 23, 2023
Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028
Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933


Biden New Science Integrity Plan: Buzzwords and Evasions Guidance Unlikely to Strengthen Agency Policies Over Next 12 Months


Washington, DC —Like herding cats, the White House has unveiled an elaborate process to induce 30 separate federal agencies into toughening their scientific integrity rules. Released last week by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the “Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice” is hopelessly vague and avoids many of the hard questions, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Just a week after his inauguration nearly two years ago, President Biden directed his OSTP to oversee a process to strengthen scientific integrity policies commissioned under Obama that had proven to be utterly ineffectual under Trump. This January, nearly nine months behind schedule, OSTP unveiled guidance for agencies in rewriting scientific integrity policies to bolster scientific transparency and prevent political manipulation. Agencies are slated to submit “updated” draft policies to OSTP within two months and provide for “public input” within six months as part of an iterative process that is supposed to culminate in adoption of new policies within the year.

Although the OSTP Framework is full of lofty rhetoric, it leaves gaping holes, such as –

    • How can the “independence” of Scientific Integrity Officers who implement these policies be assured if these officials must be full-time, senior government employees?
    • What protections if any will exist for scientists who voice professional “dissent,” as encouraged by OSTP, or whose research findings clash with agency priorities? and
    • How can “accountability” for scientific integrity transgressions be accomplished when committed by agency leaders or political appointees?

“While the intentions are laudable, the follow-through by the Biden team leaves a lot to be desired,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that OSTP is relying upon the same Scientific Integrity Officers who, for the most part, were unable to stem rampant scientific integrity abuses that occurred under Trump. “Without truly independent enforcement mechanisms, any updated policies will prove just as weak as their predecessors.”

In acknowledging that the Obama scientific integrity polices did not work, the Biden directive required as a first step that OSTP oversee an “analysis of any instances in which existing scientific-integrity policies have not been followed or enforced, including whether such deviations from existing policies have resulted in improper political interference in the conduct of scientific research …[or] led to the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings, data, information, conclusions, or technical results.” However, the Scientific Integrity Task Force report issued a year ago by OSTP did none of these things.

“Without a diagnosis of what went wrong, a prescription for fixing it will remain elusive,” added PEER Scientific Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Implementation of meaningful scientific integrity programs requires officials to name names and to explicitly punish violators, regardless of rank.”

The Biden process is reminiscent of the effort by Obama, who issued a similar directive in March of 2009. A year later, his OSTP also issued guidance for agency policy development. That guidance was also quite vague, and no agency policy was rejected, no matter how weak or incomplete.

PEER has been urging the Biden White House to issue government-wide rules that assure uniformity and provide for their enforcement as other civil service rules, such as whistleblower protection, where cases can ultimately be reviewed by courts.


Look at the OSTP scientific integrity Framework 

Compare the PEER proposal 

Read PEER analysis of current system failures  

View pathetic EPA scientific integrity program 

See lack of accountability for scientific integrity violations 

The post Biden New Science Integrity Plan: Buzzwords and Evasions appeared first on

Categories: A2. Green Unionism


The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.