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Darryl Cherney

Green Unionists: for Jobs and the Environment

Green Unionism in Theory and Practice

By Dan Jakopovich - Synthesis/Regeneration 43 (Spring 2007)

A new current in the global anti-capitalist movement has begun to develop in the last few decades. Rather than unfolding into a cohesive, self-assured and well received movement, it has largely existed on theoretical and practical margins, thwarted by dogmatic party-political, “affinity group” and NGO dominance, yet periodically reappearing as the “star of the day” wherever favorable socio-economic conditions or visionary initiatives gave it the broad attention and determination it needed to flourish.

The biggest hope for the greening of the labor movement lies in the revival of this decentralized, grassroots unionism. The parochialism, corruptibility and ingrained authoritarianism of the union officialdom have been shown time and time again, and only a bottom-up, rank-and-file approach to union work can seriously aid environmental protection and wider social change.

A basic tenet of green unionism is that labor struggles and ecological struggles are not necessarily separate, but have a potential to be mutually reinforcing. The basis for a working relationship between differing strands is the unity-in-diversity approach to organizing a mutually respectful and supportive alliance.

Especially since the late 60s and early 70s, partly as a response to working-class deradicalization and often an integration of traditional “workers’ organizations” — statist, bureaucratic political parties and business unions — there has been a massive practical and theoretical retreat from questions of class and especially class struggle, particularly in the “new social movements” which have gained in popularity after the second world war.

With the onset of neoliberal globalization, there has been a reversal to previously held positions, decomposition of people’s political “representation” (especially in social-democratic parties), a deterioration of workers’ rights and living conditions. A six-hour working day even seemed more plausible at the beginning of the 20th century (and indeed, some called for its implementation) than it does today.

Parallel to the de facto progressive deterioration of working conditions, depoliticization of the workplace has also continued, along with a general activist culture largely still hostile to labor issues (although this has partly been changing recently, especially due to the “new organizing model” exemplified by the Justice for Janitors campaign).

A dynamic understanding of people as workers and workers as activists is missing. For several decades now, there has occurred a shift of the concept of oppression from production relations (as the material basis for exploitation) to consumption, especially among many mainstream Greens who would have us confined to our roles as consumers, where we are inherently relatively powerless and almost always disorganized. This approach, as commonly understood and implemented, produces an individualistic and moralistic substitute for sustained political activity.

It is important to recognize the central importance of class and the revolutionary implications of class struggle at the point of production. People are in their materially most powerful role as producers of goods and services, capable of withholding labor, and also democratically taking over the means of production and distribution.

It is the material conditions of life which restrict and deform peoples’ humanity; therefore the struggle against those conditions also has to be concrete:

The constitution of new identities as expressive human beings in transcendence of alienated class identities implies a successful struggle over the very structures of domination, regimentation, hierarchy and discipline which exist concretely within the workplace. One cannot assume that the job site will simply wither away with the flowering of a new identity. [1]

Murray Bookchin discards the syndicalist strategy as narrow economism [2], and while it is true that the syndicalist movement has in fact often been guilty of “cultural workerism,” productivism and the idealization of the working class and its role in society, especially in the past, this has been widely challenged in and by the movement itself, and is only a secondary tendency now.

Not believing in the future of the workplace as an arena of political and social change, Bookchin calls instead for a sole focus on the “community” (as though communities exist without workplaces or classes). When talking about his libertarian municipalism, Bookchin conveniently forgets it is precisely the syndicalists who have the strongest and most successful tradition of community organizing among all explicitly libertarian currents and wider. [3]

However, democratic unionism from below is not inconsistent with the conversion to a bioregional structure consisting of self-governing, socialized units of producers and consumers, and in a system of production for need, not profit, rank-and-file unions might be able to provide the necessary councilist infrastructure necessary for decentralized decision-making and distribution, at least in the transitional period.

Green syndicalists insist that overcoming ecological devastation depends on shared responsibilities towards developing convivial ways of living in which relations of affinity, both within our own species and with other species, are nurtured (See Bari, 2001). They envision, for example, an association of workers committed to the dismantling of the factory system, its work discipline, hierarchies and regimentation — all of the things which Bookchin identifies (Kaufmann and Ditz, 1992; Purchase, 1994; 1997b). This involves both an actual destruction of some factories and their conversion towards “soft” forms of small, local production. [4]

Building the new society in the shell of the old entails changing who controls production, what is produced and how it is produced. This can be achieved only through democratizing the workplaces and empowering the communities. “The questions of ownership and control of the earth are nothing if not questions of class.” [5]

Striking Kaiser Employees Say Hurwitz is the Real Problem

Don Kegley, Mike McIntyre, Carol Ford, and Stan White, interviewed by Mikal Jakubal - River and Range, Winter 1999

Mikal Jakubal: In 1988, Charles Hurwitz's MAXXAM Corporation gained control of Kaiser Aluminum, a few years after his similar takeover of Pacific Lumber. On September 30 of last year, 3,100 members of the United Steel Workers of America walked out of five Kaiser Aluminum plants in Washington state, Ohio and Louisiana. They claim the company was unwilling to bargain in good faith on such issues as fair labor practices, outsourcing jobs to lower wage contractors, pensions, and wage and benefit parity with Kaiser's main competitors, Alcoa and Reynolds.

Ever since, employees at both Kaiser and Pacific Lumber --though in different industries several states apart--have been on an intertwining course: PALCO employees are replacing striking workers, or "scabbing," at Kaiser plants; Steelworkers have vowed to unionize PALCO and have marched in Scotia; and forest activists and Steelworkers have begun a loose alliance.

The Steelworkers consider Hurwitz and MAXXAM the problem--not Kaiser as they once knew it. The Steelworkers first encountered forest activists and issues from Humboldt County through the Jail Hurwitz web site. Soon they began working with environmentalists, who blame MAXXAM for the brutal changes in PALCO's forest management, to fight a common foe.

My connection with the Steelworkers began in late October, in the fifth week of the strike, when I went up and hired in to Kaiser's Tacoma, Washington smelter as a spy for USWA Local 7945. After a week, I revealed what I was doing and quit. Despite wide publicity, I then managed to get a job at one of the Spokane plants and worked for two weeks before walking out the front gate to the picket line with a sign that read, "No More Scabbing for Hurwitz!"

USWA members, especially long-time employees who remember Kaiser before and after MAXXAM, vocally dislike Hurwitz and what he's done to Kaiser--"their" company. Like long-time PALCO workers, they remember a pre-MAXXAM company that cared for its employees and managed their business with recognition of its responsibility to their community and its future. Union workers spoke freely with me about the strike, working conditions, and their concerns for their future and their communities. As the Steelworkers told me stories in the Local 338 Hall, drivers honked their horns in support of the picket line out front. Every now and then a locomotive would come by on the railroad tracks doing the same. The solidarity is strong.

Kaiser severely underestimated the strength and spirit of the union. Less than two percent of union members have crossed the picket line, despite the economic hardships. Recently the union, at the request of local clergy, and concerned about the number of injuries suffered by inexperienced replacement workers, offered to come back to work unconditionally while negotiations took place. When Kaiser rejected that offer, the strike officially became a "lockout." The "lockout" designation also means that if the union prevails in the unfair labor practices case it has brought with the National Labor Relations Board, MAXXAM's Kaiser could be held liable for back wages since the time of the lockout. There are at press time no negotiations in progress and the strike continues.

Who Bombed Judi Bari? - Interview with Beth Bosk

Interview by Beth Bosk - New Settler Interview, January 1995

NEW SETTLER: The last my readers know of you with regard to the bombing, you are in an Oakland hospital, near comatose. Outside, the FBI and the Oakland police are accusing you of the act of transporting the bomb that blew up your car as you were careening down a street in Oakland. I'd like you to begin with your recollection of the day you were bombed: why you were in Oakland?

JUDI: I'm going to start the day before in Willits, because I think it is more logical that way... It was the eve of Redwood Summer and we were calling for people to come in from all over the country to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to stop the over-cutting; and the timber industry was mounting a campaign to portray us as violent, and to whip up hatred against us. This included my receipt of increasingly frightening death threats, and fake press releases that were being distributed not only to the press, but were being passed out in the lumber mills and on the logging jobs. The fake press releases had the Earth First! logo on them -- but they weren't written by us, and in contrast to what we were really saying, they were calling for violence and tree spiking. One of the fake press releases actually spelled Darryl's name wrong, so it was easy to prove it was fake -- as we were asserting -- yet these were still being distributed as if they were real, and treated by the press as if they were real.

And perceived real by the increasingly-angered men who work in the industry.

JUDI: We've documented all this stuff since. Louisiana-Pacific, for example, in at least one plant (I suspect in more) held a meeting -- on the clock, that workers were forced to attend -- where they passed out the fake press releases -- presented them as real -- and encouraged the workers (in the words of the plant manager) "to go to public meetings wearing your hard hat and work boots and role up your sleeves and sit down right next to one of them so they won't talk too freely." I know this because the union filed a grievance against L-P for making them listen to anti-Earth First! propaganda on company time.

The companies were very actively trying to discredit us. G-P canceled their mill tours because of the alleged "terrorist threat." That's how they were doing their part. MAXXAM (and I have actual proof from their internal company memos) MAXXAM distributed these fake press releases calling for violence to the press after they acknowledged privately that they were fake. L-P put a barbed wire fence around their Ukiah plant. There was a whole bunch of things going on to portray us as terrorists and make people afraid of us. The bombing didn't happen in a vacuum.

Our reaction, though, was to try to head off the violence. We knew a lot of contract loggers -- the gyppos -- and we wanted to meet with them face-to-face and explain to them who we really were and to allay their fears and to work things out so that we wouldn't have to face violence that summer.

We had asked Art Harwood to help us set up these meetings of local gyppo operators, in that he was one of the largest ones, and he did that and we had two mediated meetings with a paid mediator in Willits. There were some rank-and-file loggers, but mostly it was contract loggers, company owners -- Bill Bailey was there, he owns a big logger supply outfit in Laytonville. Jerry Philbrick was there. Tom Loop was there.

And we had actually been making progress: first in humanizing each other -- in learning that each other were human beings, that we really had more in common than we thought; -- and then in allaying each other's fears. At the second meeting, we had reached an agreement that we called "The No First Strike Agreement": we had assured them that we had no intention of monkeywrenching their equipment, and they had said that they would not assault us if we don't. [laughs]

So we really felt that we were making progress and that things were going well. So, that's where I was on Tuesday of the week I was bombed. That meeting was held in the evening.

Why I Hate The Government

By Judi Bari - Industrial Worker, October 1991.

I hate the government, and I've never had any faith in working through the system. My 20 years of political activism have all been out on the front linesfrom anti-war riots to wildcat strikes to Earth First! logging blockades. I know the history of violent repression of the Wobblies the Communists, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement. But nothing in my knowledge or experience could have prepared me for the sheer horror of being bombed and maimed while organizing against big timber last year. And I never thought I would be doing something as grandiose and apparently ingenious as suing the FBI. But neither did I expect to find our movement under attack by a COINTELPRO-type operation led by Richard Held, the very same FBI/Gestapo agent who framed and jailed Leonard Pettier and Geronimo Pratt.

Richard Held is the head of the San Francisco FBI office. He is the agent in charge of my and Darryl's case, and he went on TV after the bombing to say that Darryl and I were the only suspects in the assassination attempt that nearly took my life. Held became notorious during the 1970s for his active role in COINTELPRO, an outrageous and illegal FBI program to disrupt and destroy any group that challenged the power that be. COINTELPRO's method was to foment internal discord in activist groups, isolate and discredit them, terrorize them, and assassinate their leaders. The best known example of this was Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was murdered by Chicago police in an FBI-planned assault as he slept in his bed in a Chicago apartment in 1969.

Richard Held's personal role in COINTELPRO began in L.A. in the early 1970s, where he ordered the FBI to draw and send insulting cartoons, supposedly from one faction to another in the L.A. Black Panthers. This heated up antagonisms between the factions so much that, with a little help from FBI infiltrators, they erupted into shooting wars that left two Panthers dead. Richard Held also sent fake info to the press to discredit actress and Panther supporter Jean Seberg, who eventually committed suicide as a result. Held's final coup in L.A. was to frame and jail Geronimo Pratt for supposedly murdering two people on a tennis court over a petty robbery.

Held was also on hand in Pine Ridge South Dakota in 1975 to help direct the FBI's reign of terror against the American Indian Movement. In this case the FBI took advantage of existing divisions in the native community to hook up with a vigilante group called GOONS, or Guardians of the Oglala Nation. These local thugs were armed by the FBI and guaranteed that they would not be prosecuted for crimes against AIM members. They attacked over 300 AIM people and killed 70 of them. The Pine Ridge campaign ended with a military sweep of the reservation by 200 SWAT agents, and with the framing and jailing of Leonard Peltier.

Another of Richard Held's accomplishments was in San Diego, where he was instrumental in organizing an FBI-funded right-wing paramilitary group called the Secret Army organization (SAO). The SAO kept tabs on leftists, burned down a community theater, and tried to assassinate a radical professor at San Diego State University.

In 1978 Richard Held was transferred to Puerto Rico where he oversaw the execution of two Independista leaders who were made to kneel, then shot in the head. Held stayed on until 1985, when he stage managed an island-wide SWAT assault by 300 agents who busted in doors and rounded up activists.

For all his good work, Richard Held was then promoted to be in charge of the San Francisco FBI, where he still works today. And I don't know if the FBI put that bomb in my car, but I know for certain that they tried to frame me for it and made sure the real bomber wasn't found. Looking back on the bizarre events that took place around the bombing, it is now clear that the techniques of COINTELPRO were being used against us. What is not clear, based on the way this story has played in the mainstream press, is what we were doing to merit the wrath of such a notorious assassin as Richard Held. You can be sure that it was more than just trying to save some pretty trees.

Solutions to the Timber Wars

By Darryl Cherney - Anderson Valley Advertiser, June 26, 1991

I would like to suggest that there are two proposals forestry activists can endorse, that if implemented, would relieve much of the current tensions that are continuing to build within the context of what has become known as "the timber wars." In fact, the mere advocacy of these two concepts would do much to alleviate environmentalists of their stigma of being unconcerned with the fate of the timber workforce and the health of the economy. Sound to simple to be true? Read on.

The first proposal is that we enact into law, through either the legislative or he initiative process what I'll tentatively call is Forestland Restoration and Employment Tax Act. All figures presented are extremely flexible but the concept is rooted deeply in a singular morality: that those who do the destroying and unemploying should pay for the mess they've made. The two seemingly overwhelming problems of ruined forestland and massive unemployment can be combined into one solution: provide jobs to repair the damage. This massive undertaking will be paid for by taxing the wholesale price of lumber in the exact amount needed to repair the eroded hillsides, the devastated river and stream corridors, the denuded landscapes and the collapsed ecosystems. We'll need some big strong folks to move logs and boulders along the creeks (both in and out, depending on what's needed). we'll need rock climbers to scale and rappel steep embankments which were once covered with trees. There they can plant hardy, nitrogen fixing native species. we'll need tree planters and nursery operators who will grow and plant not just the "commercial species" like redwood and Doug Fir, but the pioneer cover species like oak, madrone, bay, native grasses and ferns and so one. And we'll need trained biologists, ecologists and other educated types to construct restoration plans that will work. The need is clear. There is much work to be done by us humans fixing this place.

After 150 years of rape and run logging in the Pacific Northwest, who better for footing this bill that the timber companies. let's say we've determined that it will take 20,000 people to get a good start at this job. let's say that $20,000 per year is a decent living wage. That will require $400,000,000 a year. Add on another $100 million for supplies and administration costs and we'll need to tax the timber industry $500,000,000 per year. Great. All we need to do now is determine what their gross annual wholesale receipts are and tax them the exact percentage needed to pay that bill. The program could be administered by either the state or county governments or an environmental group such as the Nature Conservancy, who has much experience in administering environmental projects. That agency will determine what needs fixin' and who and what to send there.

Perhaps this should be attempted on a trial basis on a smaller scale, or more likely, it will require a larger scale program to repair the sins of our fathers as well as our own. the program can be expanded to apply to all industries that cause environmental degradation. The tax will always and only be applied at the point of destruction (i.e. resource extraction). As activists lobby for this legislation or gather signatures for this initiative, we will legitimately be able to say that we are pushing for full employment within the framework with an environmental agenda.

Is this difficult to achieve? Hell yes. Is it more of an impossibility to realize than any other goal we've set for ourselves? Hell no. further, programs such as this have already been instituted over the years, such as the California Conservation Corp. (the CCC's). this is not a pipe dream.

The PALCO Papers

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 27, 1991

Corporate millionaires are a vindictive lot. Take Charles Hurwitz, for example. When he's not busy raiding other companies, slaughtering ancient redwoods, or stealing the workers' pension plan, Hurwitz amuses himself by suing impoverished Earth First!ers. Thus it came to be that Pacific Lumber, also known as PALCO, is suing Earth First! activists Darryl Cherney and George Shook for $25,000 for the crime of sitting in a redwood tree.[1]

Darryl and George have already paid their debt to society for this "crime" by serving 10 days in the Humboldt County jail.[2] But the lawsuit asks for additional civil penalties. Of course Hurwitz knows that he'll never get any money out of Darryl or George, since neither of them owns a thing. The purpose of this lawsuit is bare-faced harassment. Such lawsuits are called SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), and are a standard weapon in the arsenals of destructive corporations trying to avoid public accountability. They are filed against people for engaging in political activities that should be protected by the Constitution. And, although SLAPP suits often fail in court, they succeed in diverting the attention and resources of activist groups, and in intimidating people from challenging the rich and powerful.

Darryl and George first attempted to settle this suit out of court, but PALCO refused their generous offer to pay $100 each, and the lawsuit moved on to the Justice Court of Fortuna. Fortuna is a town whose national anthem is "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm Okay," where the police chief last April instructed the good citizens not to talk to Earth First!ers. So Darryl and George, represented by lawyer Mark Harris (of Redwood Summer/Head Shaving Case fame) asked for a change of venue. And that's when the case got interesting.

Since they needed to prove that EF!ers can't get a fair trial in Fortuna, lawyer Mark Harris used the right of Discovery to request all documents Pacific Lumber may have relating to Cherney or Earth First! The stuff he got back -- mostly internal company memos sent from public relations director David Galitz to PALCO president John Campbell -- shows a sneering, bully mentality worthy of any Mississippi good old boy.

And it shows Pacific Lumber's complicity, at least in the role of official cheerleader, in the violence we are subjected to. I'm not making up a word of this. These are real Pacific Lumber memos, and are available for inspection.

Labor and Ecology

By Chris Clarke - Ecology Center Newsletter [Terrain], September 1990

If you were to believe the headlines found in major newspapers these days, you might decide that the majority of the environmental activists don‟t care much about people‟s economic needs, and that most employed people are concerned only with their paycheck, and let the ecosystem be damned. From the anti-wilderness advocates in Northwest California, to the defense contractors in Pasadena (California) who bemoan peace's price in unemployment, to the steelworkers in Lackawanna, New York, who blame environmental restrictions for their closed steel mill (and consequent breathable air), to the self-styled “environmental President” (George Bush Sr.) who waters down the Endangered Species Act with economic mitigation, a chorus of seemingly disparate voices contends that the interests of labor must counterbalance the interests of the environment.

We all want to be able to work for a living, right? And any compassionate person watching the “six o‟clock news” who sees these honest, hardworking people beset by the concerns of “tie-dyed (or Italian suited) long hairs from the big cities (all on welfare or defaulted student loans) who value animals and trees more than the livelihoods and tax-paying ability of middle America” probably feels a great deal of well-placed sympathy for these workers. But are the concerns of labor and environmentalists really at odds? Don‟t both groups have some common ground?

Astute observers will point out that most of this so-called conflict is based on a limited perception of reality, one which ignores the existence of the people who benefit from this conflict. The giant logging companies care not one whit about the welfare of either the logger or the tree unless than welfare has a positive effect on their profit margin. Oil companies will fight new demands by workers with the same ferocity that they fight restrictions on oil leasing on marine sanctuaries. And it‟s worth pointing out that Judi Bari, one of the two victims of an assassination attempt in Oakland in May 1990 [was] both a union organizer and environmental activist—both activities not exactly guaranteed to endear one to the people in power. There‟s a common enemy, in other words, that both labor and the environment share. And where there‟s a common enemy, there is usually common ground.

Bertrand Russell once stated that there are two types of labor: the expenditure of human energy to alter an object‟s form or position relative to other objects; and the telling of someone else to do so. Taking things at their most basic level, labor can be defined as the expenditure of human energy to achieve some intended purpose, whether that be physical or mental energy. Humans take in food, which is a product of the biosphere, we metabolize that food, producing energy, and that energy is harnessed as labor. In years past, labor was often supplied by other animals as well as humans; under ideal circumstances, a nonpolluting, renewable resource. (please note that I don‟t mean to be reductionist, defining people‟s work as a resources—but more on that later.) Labor is a part of the bio-sphere, then, deriving energy from the environment and functioning, except in the case of the labor of astronauts, wholly within the biosphere.

Seen in this light, it becomes a little harder to understand how the interests of human labor can be divorced from the interests of the biosphere at large and for human labor to set itself against environmental protection seems as counterproductive as if the rainforest were to challenge the legal rights of the North Slope. When systems are so interconnected, a disruption of one system must necessarily affect the other. Air-borne pollutants from the Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna caused extreme cancer rates among the workers living nearby. Deforestation in the tropics causes flooding in settlements downstream. Smog-laden air in the Los Angeles Basin produces chronic health problems for the workers who live there. One might make a rather Machiavellian case for environmental protection, then, on the grounds that only in a healthy environment can one obtain full value from human labor otherwise, the laborers suffer diseases and injuries that interfere with their peak efficiency. This argument, however implies a rather bleak social structure in which labor is seen only as a resource for extraction, and not as something with inherent rights worth protecting for their own sake. In other words, it assumes a social structure pretty much like the one we have today.

Northern California Earth First! Renounces Tree Spiking

Text of a Press Conference held April 11, 1990 at the Louisiana Pacific Mill, Samoa, California - Reprinted the Country Activist, June 1990, Earth First! Journal, Beltane (May 1), 1990, and abridged in the Mendocino Commentary, April 12, 1990

Web Editor's Note: The following introduction appeared in the Earth First! Journal alone:

In a move that has left some EF!ers confused or dismayed, several West Coast Earth First! groups have renounced tree-spiking. At press conferences held in mid April, the groups called upon activists to refrain from spiking trees in northern California and Oregon forests. This whole issue is very controversial…and we do not intend to cover the inevitable debate in EF! Journal. Below we simply reprint Northern California EF!’s press release—so that EF!ers will know what the groups actually said, not just what the rumors are saying—and, we urge interested EF!ers to contact the groups and individuals involved for more information. For a compelling letter in opposition to the tree­spiking renunciation, write Colorado EF! contact Michael Robinson. For arguments in support of the renunciation, contact North Coast EF! groups or Southern Willamette EF!

Text of the Tree Spiking Renunciation

In response to the concerns of loggers and mill-workers, Northern California Earth First! organizers are renouncing the tactic of tree spiking in our area. Through the coalitions we have been building with lumber workers, we have learned that the timber corporations care no more for the lives of their employees than they do for the life of the forest. Their routine maiming and killing of mill workers is coldly calculated into the cost of doing business, just as the destruction of whole ecosystems is considered a reasonable by-product of lumber production.

These companies would think nothing of sending a spiked tree through a mill, and relish the anti-Earth First! publicity that an injury would cause.

Since Earth First! is not a membership organization, it is impossible to speak for all Earth First!ers. But this decision has been widely discussed among Earth First!ers in our area, and the local sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of renouncing tree-spiking. We hope that our influence as organizers will cause any potential tree-spikers to consider using a different method. We must also point out that we are not speaking for all Earth First! groups in this pronouncement. Earth First! is decentralized, and each group can set its own policies. A similar statement to this one renouncing tree spiking is now being made in Southern Oregon, but not all groups have reached the broad consensus we have on this issue.
But in our area, the loggers and mill workers are our neighbors, and they should be our allies, not our adversaries. Their livelihood is being destroyed along with the forest. The real conflict is not between us and the timber workers, it is between the timber corporation and our entire community.

We want to give credit for this change in local policy to the rank and file timber workers who have risked their jobs and social relations by coming forward and talking to us. This includes Gene Lawhorn of Roseburg Lumber in Oregon, who defied threats to appear publicly with Earth First! organizer Judi Bari. It also includes the Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific, and Pacific Lumber employees who are members of IWW Local #1 in northern California.

Equipment sabotage is a time-honored tradition among industrial workers. It was not invented by Earth First!, and it is certainly not limited to Earth First! even in our area. But the target of monkey wrenching was always intended to be the machinery of destruction, not the workers who operate that machinery for $7/hour. This renunciation of tree spiking is not a retreat, but rather an advance that will allow us to stop fighting the victims and concentrate on the corporations themselves.”

IWW Defends Millworkers

By Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney - Industrial Worker, March 1990

“You better not think that you can come to Oregon because you won’t find a welcome,” warned Paul Moorehead of the Western Council of Industrial Workers (WCIC). Moorehead made his threat against IWW Local #1 organizer Judi Bari upon learning that she had been invited to participate in a Labor and the Environment workshop at a Public Interest Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon. In recent months rank and file mill workers (at Georgia Pacific’s mill in Fort Bragg) have expressed an increasing reluctance to listen to their union bosses when they tell them that wage cuts are OK, or that clearcutting the forests and destroying the earth is in workers’ best interests. No doubt Moorhead and his buddies intend to spread the word about “outside agitators” who are disturbing the profitable arrangement that the WCIC, In-ternational Woodcutters of America (IWA) and other business unions have worked out with the timber companies. “If any member of my union talks to you they’ll be out of a job,” Moorhead told Bari.

Yet Moorhead’s union, the WCIC, no longer represents workers in Mendocino County, California. The union was busted there in 1986, and now only 560 of the counties’ 3,000 workers have any union “representation” at all. Most of the 560 are “represented” by IWA Local #3-469. Despite Moorhead’s general disdain for his workers, he (and others, including the IWA, and many environmentalists) have been effective stooges in the lumber companies’ manufactured conflict between the workers and environmentalists. As a result most of the timber companies’ public support comes from the union itself.

However, not all of the workers have been fooled. With the help of the IWW, mill workers are starting to talk to each other and are coming to realize that they don’t need union bureaucrats to speak for them, and that only they can defend their jobs. “People came to the IWW because their union wasn’t representing them,” said Bari.

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