Chapter 10 : Fellow Workers, Meet Earth First!

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

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It was inevitable that the two would meet, really. Earth First! was challenging the corporate extraction of resources, but it wasn’t combating it at its source: the point of production. The problem was that the business unions theoretically could, but in practice they would not. They were too invested in their role as junior partners in the capitalist economy, which left them incapable of fighting it. There was only one union in the United States that could, and luckily, it still existed, even if it was but a shadow of its former self.

That the IWW influenced Earth First! is obvious. If the opposite was true in the early days of Earth First!’s existence, it is difficult to say. Initially, there was no direct or textual reference made by the IWW to Earth First! in its official publication, The Industrial Worker, prior to February 1988, although there was a one-time reproduction of one of Mike Roselle’s images (frequently used in the Earth First! Journal’s “dear shit fer brains” letters section), slightly altered and used in the Industrial Worker’s own letters section in September 1983.

The IWW did take note of general environmental struggles and actions within the pages of the Industrial Worker. For example, in the October / November 1980 issue there was a lengthy article titled, “Big Mountain Dine & Hopi Bat­tle Mine Interests”, a struggle which Earth First! supported for many years. In the June 1981 issue included a lengthy article about the Bolt Weevils”—which predate Earth First!, but serve as one of its inspirations—called, “The Power Line Protest in West Central Minnesota”. Earth First!er Roger Featherstone, was once involved in this campaign. There was a similar, uncredited article about this movement, simply called “Bolt Weevils” in the May 1, 1984 issue of the Earth First! Journal. An isolated column (that does not mention Earth First!) called “Ecology Notes” appeared in the Decem­ber 1982 issue. The same column never appeared again, however. By 1983, articles about ecologically oriented workers’ struggles became more and more frequent, but Earth First! was never mentioned, even if Earth First! was involved in the struggle. Meanwhile, the Wobblies were rarely mentioned in the Earth First! Journal except for a few occasional letters from self-identified IWW members, or former members. [1]

Behind the scenes, however, individual Wobblies and Earth First!ers frequently came into contact with each other. Dave Foreman later revealed that he had regularly corresponded with Utah Phillips. Franklin and Penelope Rosemont had also been in contact with Foreman as well as Roger Featherstone, a veteran of several environmental campaign, who described himself as “a roving reporter for Earth First!” [2] In Tacoma, Washington, IWW members Barbara Hansen and Allen Anger lived in an apartment in the same building as the IWW hall along with long time member, and then branch secretary, Ottilie Markholt. They were friends with George Draffan, who had been a member of the IWW when he was in college, long before joining Earth First! in the 1980s. [3] Colorado IWW member and oilfield worker Gary Cox was also sympathetic to Earth First!. Cox had read The Monkeywrench Gang, become a subscriber to the Earth First! Journal, and had attended an Earth First! speaking event by Dave Foreman and Roger Featherstone at the University of Colorado. [4] A handful of IWW members were Earth First!ers themselves, including a musician known as “Wobbly Bob”. [5]

Nevertheless, the first actual mention of Earth First! in the pages of the Industrial Worker touched on the Cameron Road tree spiking and the injury to George Alexander.

Chapter 9 : And they Spewed Out their Hatred

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

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“We are witnessing the biggest assault in 20 years on the remaining ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, and the rhetoric could hardly be more Orwellian as far as the environment is concerned.”

—North Coast Environmental Center director Tim McKay, June 1988 [1]

“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!” shouts Oz, the Great and Terrible in the theatrical version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, just after Dorothy’s dog, Toto, pulls aside the screen exposing the simple man-who-would-be-wizard. As elaborate a ruse as it was, L Frank Baum’s loveable humbug couldn’t hold a candle to the heads of modern corporations. Corporate Timber maintained economic and political control over the Pacific Northwest using the many methods to manufacture consent, including: the concentration of timber holdings and production capital (namely mills and milling equipment) in the hands of a few corporations; reliance on gyppo logging firms and either nonunion millworkers or millworkers with mostly compliant union representation; insurance of the gyppos’ loyalty through forestry and bidding practices that made the latter financially dependent upon the corporations; dominance of regulatory agencies by subservient or likeminded officials, sometimes even former timber executives; ideological and financial domination over timber dependent communities, their public institutions, and their locally elected officials; the donation of just enough charitable contributions to those often financially starved institutions as a “carrot”; the threat of capital flight—which was becoming increasingly feasible due to new technologies—as a “stick”; appeals to cultural ideals particular to the region, namely rugged individualism, cultural conservatism, and private property; and the establishment of ostensibly grassroots false front groups to foster the illusion of populist counter-opposition to the corporations’ political opponents. [2] In the spring of 1988, Pacific Lumber used this last tool extensively.

After Jerry Partain rejected the Shaw Creek and Lawrence Creek THPs proposed by Pacific Lumber, the following letter by Ramona Moore appeared in the Eureka Times-Standard and the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance:

“I’ve lived in Humboldt County since 1954 and have been employed at the Pacific Lumber Company for 24 years, and my husband for 29 years. Our four children were raised in Scotia…

“We take great pride in knowing we have always paid our full share of taxes, never drawn welfare funds nor filed unemployment because we didn’t want to work, and contributed what we could to charitable organizations. What have Earth First and EPIC people contributed? They have opposed everything from importing bananas to cutting trees and are only for legalizing marijuana. They are mostly unemployed which means they are drawing unemployment benefits or on welfare, and maybe growing ‘pot’ to supplement their income. They certainly are not paying federal, state, and county taxes…

“…We have to work for our living and whether they realize it or not, it’s our work and contributions in taxes that allows them the benefits they’re living on. So what gives them the right to play God with our future?

“Humboldt County relies on fishing, tourism, and timber (a renewable resource) for their livelihood. If Earth First and EPIC people win their endeavors, none of these things will be available. Pacific Lumber contributes $30 million in wages yearly, and millions are contributed in taxes. If this is taken from the community and thousands of people are without work, only one thing can happen—disaster!” [3]

This was but one of many very similar letters published between April 19 and June 10, 1988, including those by Steve White, published in the Eureka Times-Standard, April 19, 1988 [4]; Dann Johnson, Times-Standard on April 23, 1988 [5]; Rodney and Melodee Sanderson, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance on May 10, 1988 [6]; Richard Adams [7] and Lee Ann Walstrom [8], Times-Standard, May 21, 1988; Samuel and Linda Bartlett [9], Mary L. Fowler [10], Kevin Morris [11], Nita M Whitaker [12], Keith Kersell [13], and Lee Ann Walstrum [14], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, May 22, 1988; Gaird Hamilton, Times-Standard, May 23, 1988 [15]; Lynda Lyons, Times-Standard, May 24, 1988 [16]; Richard Ward [17] and Fred Johnson [18], Times-Standard, May 25, 1988; Forrest Johnson, Times-Standard, May 26, 1988 [19]; Dennis Coleman, Times-Standard, May 27, 1988 [20]; Raymond Davis [21], Jeff and Sherrin Erickson [22], and Gary L Wyatt [23], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, May 27, 1988; Deborah August of Eureka [24], Ken Cress [25], and Jim Scaife [26], Eureka Times-Standard, May 28, 1988; Linda Bartlett (again) [27], Allan E. Barrote [28], Josh and Betty Edwards [29], Vanessa Frederickson [30] Mohota Jean Pollard and Donald H. Pollard [31], and Dee Weeks and family (sic) [32], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, June 3, 1988; and James Ober [33] and Cindy Cardoza Tyler [34], Beacon and Fortuna Advance on June 10, 1988. The Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance commented that the sheer volume of letters was unusual. [35] Even the owner of the Chevron gas station in Scotia got into the act. [36]

Chapter 8 : Running for Our Lives

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

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“The only reason that I ran for the Board of Supervisors in the first place, primarily, was to support the timber industry”

—Humboldt County District 2 Supervisor Harry Pritchard, 1987

When Maxxam came to Humboldt and bought out old “PL”,
And ripped the worker’s pension fund and turned the land to hell,
Old Bosco sent a press release to say he’d lend a hand,
And he didn’t break his promise—he just lent it to Maxxam.

—Lyrics excerpted from Where’s Bosco? By Darryl Cherney, 1988

 

Darryl Cherney ran for congress,
As a singing candidate,
Some folks said, “he dropped out early”,
Others said, “it was too late”.

—Lyrics excerpted from Darryl Cherney’s on a Journey, by Mike Roselle and Claire Greensfelder, 1990

The fallout from EPIC vs. Maxxam I was felt almost immediately. Emboldened by Judge Petersen’s decision, and the revelations that the California Department of Forestry had essentially bullied the Department of Fish & Game into silence on the cumulative impact of logging on wildlife in the THP review process, the latter agency took an unprecedented stand. Led by John Hummel, the DFG filed “non-concurrence” reports on five Humboldt County THPs, including three by Simpson Timber Company, one by Pacific Lumber, and one by an independent landowner. In doing so, Hummel declared:

“The wildlife dependent on the old growth redwood/Douglas fir ecosystem for reproduction, food, and cover have not been given adequate consideration in view of the potential impacts…Our position in Fish and Game is that if clearcuts on old-growth stands are submitted, we will not concur until these issues are resolved.”

He further declared that economically viable alternatives to clearcutting had been proposed or evaluated, and the DFG was considering developing position statements in favor of protecting spotted owls, marbled murrelets, fishers, red-tree voles, Olympic salamanders, Del Norte salamanders, and tailed frogs as “species of special concern” in the THP process. [1]

The CDF remained entrenched and indicated that they would ignore Petersen’s ruling by announcing that they would simply change the rules to benefit Corporate Timber. Following the DFGs “non-concurrence” filings, CDF director Jerry Partain called upon the California Board of Forestry to invoke its emergency powers to allow the CDF discretion to overrule DFG findings and approve THPs anyway. This was also unprecedented. The emergency rules had hitherto only been used to protect the environment; now Partain was calling for the opposite. The CDF director’s action brought immediate condemnation from the Office of Administrative Law, the Planning and Conservation League, and EPIC. Among other things, they charged that this rule change should require a full EIR under CEQA. [2]

No doubt Corporate Timber was the biggest motivator behind Partain’s machinations. Epic vs. Maxxam I threatened to shake the agency’s practices up significantly, and not just in Humboldt County. For example, in Mendocino County, local residents filed challenges to two Louisiana-Pacific THPs in the Navarro and Big River Watersheds. [3] The Corporations’ response was to lobby the BOF to require administrative fees of $1,000 per challenge, a threat to citizen oversight that even some pro-Corporate Timber backers considered overshoot and legally untenable. [4]

* * * * *

It was within this political context that Darryl Cherney’s and Greg King’s campaign for office took place. As the environmentalists’ struggle for forestry reform gained momentum and public support they increasingly found themselves in conflict with the government at all echelons. Whether at the fed­eral, state, or county level, it was scarcely an exaggeration to say that poli­ticians and judges were heavily influenced by Corporate Timber. Maxxam and Simp­son called the shots in Hum­boldt County, Georgia-Pacific con­trolled Mendocino County to the south, and Louisiana-Pacific was a heavy hitter in both.

Chapter 7 : Way Up High in The Redwood Giants

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

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

“I just wish Mr. Hurwitz would go out in the woods and take about a day and just sit down in inside a redwood grove. Maybe he’d have a different opinion (about) what’s going on. Rather than looking at a dollar bill, he’d be seeing a tree for its value.”

—John Maurer, Pacific Lumber shipping clerk, 1976-86.

“The employees of PL have no union or representation; they’ve been kidnapped. Whatever their employer requires, they must fulfill or risk unemployment. They’ve become forced through economics to support practices they would never have supported otherwise. PL employees are paranoid by necessity. Folks are so afraid of losing their jobs. There’s lots of fear in our community, fear that keeps us separated from one another.”

—Pete Kayes, Pacific Lumber blacksmith, 1976-91

Earth First! was committed to their Week of Outrage Against Maxxam, whether or not their message of forests and timber jobs forever was superimposed with images of mill worker George Alexander speaking through the bandages that covered his mutilated face. Greg King worried that the negative publicity for an act Earth First! didn’t commit would indeed distract attention away from the real issue: the long term liquidation of the last remaining virgin redwood forests of Northern California. Darryl Cherney, however, assured everyone, “We will be upholding the laws. It is Pacific Lumber that is breaking them.” [1] Beginning on Monday, May 18, Earth First! planned to conduct actions in several places specifically targeting Pacific Lumber operations, Maxxam offices, and related facilities. [2] The largest and most important of these was to be a multifaceted action on Pacific Lumber land in Humboldt County itself, targeting the Booths Run “All Species Grove” THP concurrently being contested by EPIC. [3]

In preparation for the demonstrations, on the day before a group of Earth First!ers attempted to block Pacific Lumber’s main haul route into All Species Grove, while a second crew, including Larry Evans, Mokai, Kurt Newman, and Darrell Sukovitzen, conducted a group “tree sit” 120-150 high on four three-by-six foot suspended wooden platforms up in the giant redwoods nearby. Only two platforms were successfully deployed, however. Mokai had retreated at the advice of the other sitters for logistical reasons, and instead watched his would-be fellow climbers ascending their trees through binoculars. Newman was able to climb his tree, but his platform was intercepted by P-L security who arrived very quickly. From the canopies, the sitters hung large 30-foot banners with slogans such as “Save the Redwoods” and “Stop Maxxam” which also included a blood colored skull and crossbones. The sitters stayed up for several hours until Humboldt County sheriffs arrived, at which time Evans and Sukovitzen surrendered. Newman, on the other hand, remained in place until a professional P-L climber, Dan Collings ascended to his position, at which time Newman surrendered also. [4] The three tree sitters, three of their support people (Lynn Burchfield, Debra Jean Jorgenson, and Linda Villatore), and Sacramento Weekly reporter Tim Holt [5] were arrested and spent two nights in the Humboldt County jail and faced fines of up to $3000. [6] They had collectively managed to remain in the trees for between 12 and 20 hours, but had hoped to remain longer to give the next day’s action “staying power”. [7]

As it turned out, the tree sits weren’t needed anyway. The next day, the show went on at the enormous P-L log deck at Carlotta nearby, attended by 125 Earth First!ers and their allies holding banners, chanting, and singing songs, led by Darryl Cherney. [8] The tree spiking furor had brought larger than expected numbers of media representatives to the action, and they got a good look at Maxxam’s pillage and the Humboldt County sheriffs’ heavy handedness firsthand. One demonstrator was slightly injured when a disgruntled, unsympathetic P-L employee attempted to storm the protesters at the logging gate by ramming them with his pickup truck. [9] A group of three women swarmed the log deck attempting to display huge banners there. [10] Although the sheriffs were anticipating the action and managed to arrest Agnes Mansfield, Aster Phillipa, and Karen Pickett [11], they were distracted long enough for Bettina Garsen, Tierra Diane Piaz, and “Sally Bell” [12] to ascend the log deck with banners conveying messages calling for a halt to old growth logging. [13] The sheriffs eventually arrested the second group, and all six arrestees each spent a night in the county jail. [14] Although the tree sit had been thwarted, the action turned out to be successful anyway, because P-L determined that it was in their short term interest not to haul any logs during the demonstration, and this nevertheless advanced Earth First!’s strategy beautifully. [15]

IWW delivers a grievance letter to Plymouth vegan cafe over unfair dismissal of a trans employee

By Tom Anderson - Canary, March 7, 2023

On Friday 3 March, workers from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) trade union delivered a grievance letter to Power Plant Vegan Cafe in Plymouth.

It said:

Today, a group of workers from Bristol IWW attended the Power Plant Vegan Cafe in Plymouth to deliver a grievance letter to the management on behalf of one of our union members. It is alleged that this member was unfairly dismissed, treated in a way that violated the 2010 Equal Rights Act, and was not provided with a safe working environment.

The union has requested a meeting with the cafe owners within the next week.

Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch Endorses Resolution in Support of Public Ownership of the Railroads

Adopted unanimously - Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch, March 2, 2023

Whereas, rail infrastructure the world over is held publicly, as are the roads, bridges, canals, harbors, airports, and other transportation infrastructure; and

Whereas, numerous examples of rail infrastructure held publicly have operated successfully across North America for decades, usually in the form of local/ regional commuter operations and state-owned freight trackage; and

Whereas, due to their inability to effectively move the nation’s freight and passengers during WWI, the U.S. government effectively nationalized the private rail infrastructure in the U.S. for 26 months; and

Whereas, at that time it was agreed by shippers, passengers, and rail workers that the railroads were operated far more effectively and efficiently during that time span; and

Whereas, every rail union at that time supported continued public ownership (the “Plumb Plan”) once the war had ended; and

Whereas, specifically, when the rank & file rail workers were polled by their unions in Decem­ber 1918, the combined totals were 306,720 in favor of continued nationalization with just 1,466 in favor of a return to private ownership; and

Whereas, the entire labor movement at that time was in favor of basic industry being removed from private hands, with the delegates to the 1920 AFL Convention voting 29,159 to 8,349 in fa­vor, overruling the officialdom of the AFL and its conservative position; and

Whereas, in the face of today’s crumbling infrastructure, crowded and clogged highways and city streets, poor air quality, lack of transportation alternatives and deepening climate crisis, ex­panded rail transportation – for both freight and passenger - presents a solution to these social ills and problems; and

Whereas, the rail industry today however is contracting – rather than expanding – at a time when we need more trains, trackage, rail workers, and carloads, not fewer; and

Whereas, the private rail industry is moving 5 to 10% less freight than it did 16 years ago, and in recent years has shuttered diesel shops and classification yards, and has drastically reduced the number of employees; and

Whereas, the private rail freight industry is generally hostile to proposals to run any additional passenger trains on their tracks – despite having legal common carrier obligations to do so - making it difficult if not impossible to expand the nations’ passenger rail network; and

Whereas, the rail industry has come to focus solely on the “Operating Ratio” as a measure of their success, and in doing so have engaged in massive stock buybacks and other measures that deliver short-term gains for stockholders but at the expense of the long-term health and vitality of the industry; and

Whereas, the Class One carriers’ failures to move freight effectively have contributed greatly to the ongoing supply chain crisis, resulting in some of the highest inflation rates in many years; and

Whereas, these “Fortune 500” corporations have raked in record profits, in both “good” years and “bad”, right through the “Great Recession,” the pandemic, and otherwise, right up to the most recent Quarterly financial announcements; and

Whereas, during these years of record profits, these same Class One carries have:

  • Failed to solicit nor accept new but “less profitable” freight traffic.
  • Forwarded less freight than 16 years ago.
  • Stonewalled practically every attempt by Amtrak and other agencies to add passenger ser­vice.
  • Failed to run Amtrak passenger trains on time, despite regulation and law to do so.
  • Downsized the infrastructure, physical plant, and capacity.
  • Eliminated nearly a third of the workforce.
  • Outraged shippers and their associations by jacking up prices, providing poor service, and
  • assessing new demurrage charges.
  • Thumbed their nose at state and federal governments.
  • Blocked road crossing and increased derailments by the implementation of extremely long trains.
  • Threatened and attempted at every turn to run trains with a single crew member.
  • Opposed proposed safety measures, from Positive Train Control (PTC) to switch point indi­cators;
  • the End-of-Train Device (EOT) to Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes (ECP).
  • Taken a hostile stance towards the myriad unions, refused the bargain in good faith, consist­ently demanding concessions, all the while expecting these “essential workers” to labor through the pandemic without a wage increase.

Therefore, be it Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH supports the public ownership of the rail infrastructure of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, under democratic workers’ control, to be operated henceforth in the public interest, placed at the service of the people of all three nations; and

Be it Further resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urge all of its members to voice their support for this proposal; and

Be it Further Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urges all other IWW branches, industrial unions, and chartered bodies to take a similar stand; and

Be it finally Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urges all labor unions, environmental and community groups, social justice organizations, rail advocacy groups and others to push for a modern publicly owned rail system, one that serves the nation’s passengers, shippers, communities, and citizens.

Defending Abundance Everywhere: A Call to Every Community from the Weelaunee Forest

By Abundia, Jesse, Jordan, & Mara - Weelaunee Web Collective, March 2, 2023

In the following text, participants in the movement to defend Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta, Georgia describe some of the values that animate this struggle. For background on the movement, start here.

This is a collection of short essays reflecting on the abundance that exists in our communities and in the more-than-human world, and how we not only can practice gratitude for this abundance but embody it as a way of approaching the world.

We dedicate this work to our friend, Tortuguita, who was part of these conversations. Georgia State Troopers killed Tortuguita on January 18, 2023 at the forest they loved so dearly. This piece is for them and for all past, present, and future Warriors defending and loving the Sacred Web of Abundance everywhere.

With profound love and admiration,
The Weelaunee Web Collective: Abundia, Jesse, Jordan, & Mara

Introduction

The threads of our lives have been slowly woven together through meals cooked communally, organizing meetings, bonfires and late conversations, foraging, harvesting, taking care of each other, and, lately, mourning a fallen comrade and friend. We all came together to protect Weelaunee Forest: the trees, waters, people, and all beings of this land. We came together to Stop Cop City and the violent military occupation of police in our communities, especially the Black and Brown ones, in Atlanta, Georgia. We came together amid COVID, when we felt the loss of closeness with our people, knowing we had to find creative ways of fostering community. We have come together to build the world we want to live in, even as we recognize we are all swimming in the extractive and oppressive systems of colonization, white supremacy, and capitalism, programmed for convenience and quick rewards. We keep coming back together, gathering with each other, to live in the joy and rest and wellness of community care.

The topic of this piece is the Sacred Web of Abundance (SWoA). The larger Sacred Web of Abundance is the sum of the vast, intricate system that sustains all life on this planet. Your Sacred Web of Abundance is the place that you live, the ways in which it sustains you, and the ways in which you sustain it. We are here to be part of this web and invite in others who are on the same land. What we have found is that the Sacred Web of Abundance, with her billions of years of wisdom, is there for us, waiting for our gratitude, delight, offerings, rituals, and ceremonies—waiting to build a relationship with us.

These unique ways of considering abundance emanate from a particular place, the South River Forest, known as the Weelaunee Forest on old maps of Georgia. These ideas come from conversations among a group of people as they adapt to living in that place.

Often overlooked, we feel that the Sacred Web of Abundance is a powerful idea for radical organizing. It is here for us as a force for liberation—as it has existed since time immemorial—and to help us fix the mess we are in by reclaiming our community power and centering it around the land that the community inhabits. In these times, we are all called to create new forms of organizing and direct action; new language, perspectives, and modes of being; and infrastructure for healing, care, and safety that centers the SWoA as key praxis for autonomous communities to build on.

Abundance points to the interconnected reliance on both self and community to provide for all; therefore, re-creating and reconnecting to our Sacred Web of Abundance are both essential collective actions for a new political project aimed at freedom and autonomy. Abundance is here, already, alive around us, if we open ourselves to its presence. We do not take this reliance on abundance for granted, as we did with the gift of human contact and proximity pre-COVID. Instead, we want to nourish and be nourished in its care, find inspiration from it to build new mutual aid infrastructure, gather strength to defend it from extractivism and capitalism everywhere, and create new cultures and ways of being and relating to each other and all the members of the SWoA.

Chapter 6 : If Somebody Kills Themselves, Just Blame it on Earth First!

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

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

Haul it to the sawmill, Got to make a buck,
Your blades are worn and dangerous, Better trust your luck,
Don’t stop for the workers’ safety, Never fear the worst,
‘Cause if somebody kills themselves, Just blame it on Earth First!,
L-P…

—Lyrics excerpted from L-P, by Judi Bari, 1990.

“Anybody who ever advocated tree spiking of course has to rethink their position.”

—Darryl Cherney, June 1987.[1]

Earth First! received much negative press for its advocacy of biocentrism, the notion that all species (including humans) were intrinsically valuable. Their slogan “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!” was forceful and militant, and given the misanthropic leanings of some of its cofounders, it was often taken to mean that they valued the lives of nonhuman species above humans—even if it meant the suffering or death of the latter—which wasn’t actually the case. The situation was complicated further by Earth First!’s advocacy of monkeywrenching: industrial “ecotage” which included everything from deflagging roads to putting sugar in the fuel tanks of earth moving and/or logging equipment. Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman described monkeywrenching thusly:

“It is resistance to insanity that is encapsu­lated in Monkeywrenching…(it) fits in with the bioregional concept. You go back to a place and you peacefully re-inhabit it. You learn about it. You become a part of the place. You develop an informal and al­ternative political and social struc­ture that is somehow apart from the sys­tem… it’s also a means of self-empowerment, of finding alternative means of relat­ing to other people, and other life forms…there is a funda­mental difference between ecodefense resistance and classic revolutionary or terrorist behavior.” [2]

Such a description, while informative, was hardly likely to silence critics on the right. The most controversial of these controversial tactics by far, was Earth First!’s advocacy of “tree spiking”, the act of driving large nails into standing trees in order to deter timber sales. [3]

Workers at Berkeley’s Ecology Center aim to unionize

By Iris Kwok - Berkeleyside, February 28, 2023

Administrative employees at the 53-year-old Ecology Center, which operates Berkeley’s three farmers markets and a store on San Pablo Avenue, are seeking to form a union.

Administrative and farmers market employees at Berkeley’s Ecology Center are hoping to unionize. 

Twelve workers at the Berkeley environmental nonprofit notified their managers via email on Friday that they want to join the Industrial Industrial Workers of the World Union (IWW), which the Ecology Center’s recycling drivers have been organized with since 1989. 

The Ecology Center currently employs 20 non-managerial workers who help operate Berkeley’s three farmers markets, staff the center’s store at 2530 San Pablo Ave. and do other administrative work like writing grants and teaching classes, according to union organizers. 

Organizers are seeking voluntary recognition from management, but have not yet received a response, said Lucy Asako Boltz, who coordinates the center’s farmers market access and equity program.

They are asking that inflation-based cost of living adjustments be guaranteed to help afford the cost of living in the Bay Area. They also hope a union will ensure worker protections and eliminate favoritism. 

“Having the ability to negotiate with management as a group will help us to gain respect and make our workplace more equitable,” worker Beth Williams said in a press release issued by organizers.

Martin Borque, the Ecology Center’s executive director, has not responded to emails and phone calls requesting comment. 

An Obituary for Tortuguita

By Tallahassee IWW - European Trade Union Institute, February 24, 2023

Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran
They/It
4/23/96 – 1/18/23

Manny was a close friend, comrade, and above all, a constant fighter for working people. I knew them in Tallahassee through the IWW, Food Not Bombs, and Live Oak Radical Ecology and I will never cease to be amazed by their tireless activism, their extreme empathy, and their ability to make everyone feel welcome in radical spaces. They died as they lived, fighting for a better world and defending the forest from destruction in the name of a fascist militarized police force. I hope their name will not be forgotten, and that their killer is brought to justice, but more than anything I hope the cause that they fought for is victorious. Now we mourn this great loss to the Tallahassee and Atlanta communities, but tomorrow we will fight back twice as hard against Capitalism and the State so that Tortuguita did not die in vain. We love you and miss you Manny. Solidarity Forever!

Legal Support for Protesters/Activists

Support for Manny’s Family/Funeral Costs/Immigration

Public Petition to Support the Defend the Atlanta Forest Movement

This obituary was originally printed in Atlanta IWW’s South Paw newsletter by the Tallahassee IWW and has been reprinted here at their request.

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