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Louisiana-Pacific (LP)

The New Wave of Environmental Loggers (Part 1)

The first part of an on air radio discussion with Judi Bari - Transcript of a KZYX FM radio program; also featured in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, September 23, 1992.

Judi Bari: I'm Judi Bari, host for this evening's Environment Show on KZYX in Philo. With me tonight are local loggers Ernie Pardini and his brother Tony Pardini. In addition, we have Rod Balson and local carpenter-Earth First!er-turned-logger, Mark Heimann. There's a whole bunch of us in the studio. I'll try to remind you who's talking as we go along to keep it from getting too confusing.

What I want to get into is how this corporate overcut is affecting loggers in general and what's going on in the community. It's not just one person.

Why don't we start with a little of who you are and how long you've been in this community and what you do.

 Tony Pardini: Thank you, Judi. I'm a licensed timber operator right now. I've been in the woods for around 19 years. I've lived in Boonville ail my life. I would like to express my feelings about the environmental movement and how we can work together as a team instead of against one another. I work in the woods every day. I've got a cat and a loader now. I just finished a small job in Mill Creek... I think I do a better job in the woods than on the radio. I like lo show my colors in the woods by doing a good job, an environmentally-sound job out there in the woods, in the trenches.

Judi Bari: And who do you work for? Do you work for the corporations? Do you work for L-P? Do you work for small jobs?...

Tony Pardini: I do not work for L-P. I've been in business for myself for two years. All my jobs in that time have been working for private timber owners. As far as I know they have all been pleased with my work. I hope that my work will bring good things in the future.

Judi Bari: Rod, how about you? Why don't you say who you are, how long you've been in this community?

Rod Balson: I've been here since 1974. I came from L.A. so that was quite a culture shock. I've been working in the woods probably since 1979. There's not much work anymore in the woods.

Tony Pardini: I think there is not much work because of the slow down in logging on corporation lands, mainly. I think most of the timber is cut off. I was talking the other day about the string of logging trucks that used to go through the town of Navarro where I live. Nowadays they are few and far between. The timber is not there, the jobs are not there. In my opinion it's not Earth First! or environmentalists that are stopping these jobs, eliminating these jobs it's the corporations that have overcut in the past eight years.

An Open Letter to Loggers

By Ernie Pardini - Anderson Valley Advertiser, August 12, 1992.

Since I've "come out of the closet" so to speak, on my views concerning the timber industry, I've encountered an influx of misconceptions about the premise of my beliefs and about where my loyalties lie. I think it time to clear up some of the disinformation and clarify my stand on the issues involved.

First of all, a commonly asked question is "have you joined up with the environmentalists?" The answer is Yes. I have been meeting, along with several other timber industry people, with members of the environmental movement, to work as a group in a joint effort to secure the future of the timber industry in this area. Some of the issues being discussed are:

  • Corporate over harvesting--Ways to curb harvests so that we can minimize the coming lull in the logging industry due to long term recovery of vast areas of clearcut timberland.
  • Keeping timberland as timberland--Exercising our influence to insure that large corporate landholdings are not developed or subdivided into parcels that would convert it's main use to something other than timber production.
  • Alternative related industry--working to come up with alternative wood markets which are compatible with resource management and that would provide employment for laid off timber workers in similar and related fields.
  • Grant Research--exploring the possibilities of government funding to aid in the startup of timber-related industries which would help finance small businesses.
  • Uniting timber workers in an association of some sort that would strengthen their voice on issues of employment, pay scales, political action, local legislation, etc.

I have found the members of the environmental movement to be very willing to compromise for the benefit of the timber workers and very sympathetic to their plight. Even to the extent of expending their own energies to improve working conditions and provide alternate means of employment. They are not against the use of forest resources, simply against the abuse of same. They certainly offer more compassion than do the corporate heads who are really responsible for the industry recession.

Judi Bari interviews Louisiana Pacific Mill Workers

Transcript of a KZYX FM radio interview; Reprinted in August 1992 issue of the Industrial Worker.

Mill workers Don Beavers and Randy Veach have worked in the non-union Louisiana Pacific mill in Ukiah for 15 and 14 years, respectively. This KZYX FM radio interview with Judi Bari took place a few days after they publicly criticized the company for safety violations in the local media.

Judi Bari: I think a lot of people listening have never worked in a plant anything like L-P. Could you start by describing what it's like to work there?

Don Beavers: First of all, we're Graders, so it's our job to grade the lumber. We stand up all day, we breathe sawdust and dirt all day--it comes off the lumber. About every 2 seconds we have to turn over a board and grade it...

Randy Veach: ...as it's coming down the chain, it's constantly moving.

Don Beavers: It continually moves. It doesn't stop. They put in some new machinery a few years back and so now we not only have to turn over one board and grade it, but we have to split that board sometimes and put two grades on one board with trim marks and all kinds of stuff. So we don't have a whole lot of time to do this...

Randy Veach: ...but we're expected to do it...

Don Beavers: ...and on top of that they change our marks and make new grades for us all the time, and they don't give us time to get used to this, they don't do anything but speed it up.

Randy Veach: You're expected to do exactly what they tell you to do without any argument.

Don Beavers: All the time, for eight hours a day, five days a week, day in and day out, every minute standing up working...turning lumber over, grading it.

Judi Bari: And they have bells for when you start, when you take your break and stuff...

Don Beavers: Whistles.

Randy Veach: ....or whistles, I mean really, a lot of people haven't experienced this kind of thing since elementary school, and I guess L-P is a little like elementary school in a lot of ways, but just presume you're talking to somebody that has no experience with this.

Don Beavers: No, I would say more like boot camp.

Randy Veach: Yeah, that's probably a better description.

Judi Bari: A bunch of elementary school kids in boot camp.

Don Beavers: We're expected to be at our work stations exactly when that whistle blows.

Randy Veach: We were late one time by 3 seconds to be at our work stations. This is a true story too. And we were told not to be late any more. And I was 15 feet from where I was supposed to be and I was on my way walking there... and the machine wasn't even running.... We get yelled at for things that are totally made up. The foreman looks for ridiculous things to yell at us for.

Don Beavers: And he apparently seems to enjoy it, that's why he does it.

Randy Veach: Exactly, it's his head trip, he enjoys yelling at people that's why he's a foreman.

Don Beavers: That's what they want, really. I guess.

Randy Veach: That's right. They intimidate the workers by fear and that's why they have him there. Everybody around here is so afraid that if something gets crossed up ...lumber gets crossed up... they will try to fix it without stopping the machine for fear of being yelled at by the foreman if they do not stop the machine. It's a constant environment of fear, totally.

Taking Back the Woods: Judi Bari Interviews Ernie Pardini

Judi Bari Interviews Ernie Pardini on KZYX FM in Philo, reprinted in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 29, 1992 and Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

Judi Bari: I want to start by you talking a little about who you are. What's your background, how long have you been in this county, how long you've been logging?

Ernie Pardini: Let's see--how old am I? I was born and raised here. My great-grandparents came here from Italy. They actually moved to Navarro during a logging boom, and built a hotel there in the days of the boom. But my family's been in the logging business in some capacity or another ever since, and I've been logging since I was 17. I'm 37 now, so that puts 20 years behind me. I am currently a licensed timber operator.

Judi Bari: And just so the listeners will know who they're listening to, everybody knows that the timber operator at the Albion cut is Pardini, so what relationship to you is the Pardini in Albion?

 Ernie Pardini: Well, that's my uncle. He just happened to be the unlucky guy who got the bid.

Judi Bari: And are you currently employed?

Ernie Pardini: I'm self employed right now. I'm starting a fledgling, struggling business. It's logging in a sense--I do some commercial logging. Probably by now it's clear that I won't do a job that's not in line with having timber in the future to log on that some piece of property. But I'm not against logging. Logging has to be done and should be done, I feel, but in a conscionable manner. And that's my complaint with the corporations, that they're not doing that.

Judi Bari: In your article in the Anderson Valley Advertiser a couple of weeks ago, you said you left the area for a while, and when you came back you saw things that opened your eyes. Could you describe that?

Ernie Pardini: Yes, I could. The business that I'm in now requires that I'm out and about a lot. I see a lot of country, a lot of the woods. And when I got back from New York--I was there for four and a half years--I found myself in areas that I had logged 10 years previously, when I worked for Masonite, on Masonite lands at the time, which are now L-P lands for the most part. And I saw areas that were logged when I was actively involved with Masonite that had been re-logged--and when I say re-logged I mean re-logged, there was nothing left but stumps and tan oak scrub--with entire new road systems cut in on steep ground, across the roads that we used when we were in there, which wasn't necessary as far as I could see. There's no logical reason for that, but it was done. This one job that sticks out in my mind looked like a checkerboard effect--it was skid roads this way and skid roads that way. And no trees. I thought, well maybe that's an isolated case, and then as I saw more and more of the corporate lands I saw more and more that it wasn't an isolated case--that there is very, very little timber out there on corporation lands.

What the L-P Memos Really Mean

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, June 10, 1992 - Reprinted in Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

During last week's courtroom drama over the Albion logging protests, I attempted to testify about the L-P Memos. These memos, sent by L-P top-level executive Bob Morris to L-P president Harry Merlo, show the seedy underside of this depraved corporation's local practices. I say that I attempted to testify because L-P lawyer Cindee Mayfield objected to every word out of my mouth, and Judge Luther upheld most of her objections. No way did they want this information out on the streets. But that's why we have the AVA. So, Judge Luther, this is what I would have said if you had let me testify.

The L-P Memos were leaked to the press last January. They are a series of memos written over a three-year period from 1988 to 1991 in which L-P Western Division Resource Manager Bob Morris becomes increasingly critical of Harry Merlo's business practices, until Harry finally fires him. At the time the memos became public, there was much oohing and aching over the fact that L-P insiders were shown admitting privately what they were denying publicly: that L-P has vastly overcut the forest in the redwood region. But that's about as deep as the analysis of these memos ever went, and that's only half the story. The L-P memos are not environmental documents. They are economic documents, and they show that Harry was in it up to his ears.

The very first memo, titled "Long-Term Timber Purchase Agreement," describes a plan for Harry Merlo to pull off a private takeover of L-P similar to the MAXXAM takeover of Pacific Lumber. The plan was devised by Morris at Merlo's request. It called for Merlo to buy out part of L-P's Western Division, so that ownership would go to Harry Merlo as an individual, instead of the L-P stockholders as a public group. Apparently Harry was not satisfied with being president, CEO and chairman of the board of L-P. He wanted it all.

The takeover plan called for Harry to buy off the sawmills while leaving the timberlands to the stockholders. This would be easy to pull off, speculates Morris, because the stockholders will think they're getting the good end of the deal by keeping the timberlands, and will therefore sell the sawmills off for cheap. of course, as in all sleazy business deals, they would have to move quickly once they got their ducks in a row. otherwise an outsider (known as a "white knight" in corporate takeover parlance) could come in and snatch up Harry's deal by offering the stockholders more money. As Morris puts it: "The timing of a management-led buyout must be of short duration. It will focus attention on the company and this, coupled with our liquidity and low debt position, may attract outside participants."

"Objection!" piped up Cindee Mayfield when I got this far in my court testimony. "The witness cannot prove that this takeover plan was ever implemented." Naturally Judge Luther upheld the objection and I never got a chance to finish. But this is the whole point of the L-P Memos. Morris' disillusionment with L-P came as he watched Merlo set the stage for such a takeover, even though the final step of the buyout was never taken.

Breaking Ranks

By Ernie Pardini - Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 1992; Reprinted in the Industrial Worker, November 1992.

Hello, my name is Ernie Pardini. Before I get started with what I came here to say to all of you, I think it only fair that I tell you a little bit about myself. First of all, Logging is a tradition that goes back through 5 generations of my family. I am a licensed Timber Operator - that makes me a logger. I also have a passionate love for natural beauty that God has surrounded me with, and an unfaltering desire to see it perpetuated, able to sustain itself throughout eternity. That makes me an environmentalist. I'm not here to represent either group individually, but both together, as a whole, as children of one family, those of the Planet Earth.

I.ve spent the last couple of years in what may have seemed to a lot of people a state of indifferent neutrality where the environmentalists vs. timber industry issue is concerned. I've observed factions of both sides do everything humanly possible to swing public opinion in their direction. From employing conventional legal actions, to slinging slanderous accusations with no hard evidence to back them. With all their efforts, very little has been accomplished by either side except to divide the co-inhabitants of an otherwise compatible and caring and peaceful community. I didn't come here with the intentions of making enemies, though some of what I have to say may offend some people. As a lot of you know my uncle's logging company is directly involved in the Enchanted Meadow operation. I will defend to the end his ability and conscience where logging is concerned, though I disagree with the overharvesting done by L-P, I know that my uncle's company will see that it's done in a manner that is environmentally sound as possible under the circumstances.

Even so, my standing with him will be strained at best when this day is finished. But I accept this, because I feel that what I have to say is important.

The sh*t raiser speaks! Interview with Judi Bari

There are two, slightly different versions of this interview, neither of which are complete, so we are treating them as separate documents. The other version, The Foundations of Future Forestry is also featured in this library.

Chris Carlsson and Med-o interview workplace and environmental activist Judy Bari on April 20, 1992 - featured in Processed World, Winter 1992-93

Judi Bari was born in Baltimore in 1949. She attended the University of Maryland, where she majored in anti-Vietnam War rioting. Since college credit is rarely given for such activities, Judi was soon forced to drop out of college with a political education but no degree. She then embarked on a 20-year career as a blue-collar worker. During that time she became active in the union movement and helped lead two strikes--one of 17,000 grocery clerks in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area (unsuccessful, smashed by the union bureaucrats) and one (successful) wildcat strike against the U.S. Postal Service at the Washington D.C. Bulk Mail Center.

In 1979 Judi moved to Northern California, got married and had babies. After her divorce in 1988, she supported her children by working as a carpenter building yuppie houses out of old-growth redwood. It was this contradiction that sparked her interest in Earth First!

As an Earth First! organizer, Judi became a thorn in the side of Big Timber by bringing her labor experience and sympathies into the environmental movement. She built alliances with timber workers while blockading their operations, and named the timber corporations and their chief executive officers as being responsible for the destruction of the forest.

In 1990, while on a publicity tour for Earth First! Redwood Summer, Judi was nearly killed in a car-bomb assassination attempt. Although all evidence showed that the bomb was hidden under Judi's car seat and intended to kill her, police and FBI arrested her (and colleague Darryl Cherney) for the bombing, saying that it was their bomb and they were knowingly carrying it. For the next eight weeks they were subjected to a police- orchestrated campaign in the national and local press to make them appear guilty of the bombing. Finally the district attorney declined to press charges for lack of evidence. To this day the police have conducted no serious investigation of the bombing, and the bomber remains at large.

Crippled for life by the explosion, Judi has returned to her home in the redwood region and resumed her work in defense of the forest. She and Darryl are also suing the FBI and other police agencies for false arrest, presumption of guilt, and civil rights violations. Judi now lives in Willits, California with her two children.

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.

Last Ditch Logging

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 10, 1991, Reprinted in Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

One thing about working in the woods in Mendocino County is that there just isn't much wood left. The once mighty old growth is gone, and even decent second growth is getting hard to find. You can see how a logger in Humboldt or Del Norte could be fooled into believing there is enough forest left to sustain this logging assault. But here in Mendo(cino) County, the land of the baby redwood, it's getting harder and harder for the loggers to ignore what they're seeing with their own eyes.

"I can't live here anymore. I've seen too much of the woods destroyed," a twenty-year veteran Mendo(cino)logger told me. "It's a paradox. You love the wood, you're with it all day, and you're killing it." A younger woods worker, born and raised in Mendo(cino) County, says he's "fed up with doing the damage. It's not right. That's why so many loggers are drunk. It's not natural to whack up that much shit in one day."

It's not easy for a logger to admit that his job is destroying the forest, and the fact that a few are beginning to come forward and do so is an indication of how bad things really are out there. Unlike mill workers, and unlike most industrial workers, loggers have a legendary pride in their occupation. "The whole idea of being a logger," says one of my sources, "is that it's not something you do, it's Something you are. While you're out there, your cursing it. It's 100°, there's flies, there's mosquitoes, there's dust and dirt all over the place, and those chokers are heavy. But it's a good job for someone who likes to work."

 A choker setter is the perfect example of that, After the trees are felled, his job is to scramble up and down the hillsides carrying up to 100 pounds of metal cables, which he wraps around the cut trees so they can be hauled in to the landing. He has to dodge moving equipment, trees and cables to do it. For this he gets paid $9 or $10 an hour, and most local gyppo companies work a ten-hour day. Equipment operators get up to $13 an hour, and fallers get paid piece work, usually amounting to $150 or $200 a day, out of which they must buy and maintain their own equipment.

L-P has never had union loggers in this county, but G-P loggers used to be covered by the IWA union contract. "Back then we did pretty good," said an ex-union faller. "We got an hourly wage plus a production bonus." But in 1985 IWA union rep Don Nelson agreed to a contract that cut out the woods workers from union protection, and now all the loggers in Mendo(cino) County work for gyppo firms. L-P and G-P contract out to the gyppos, and the job goes to the low bidder who is willing to cut the most corners. Competition among the gyppos is intense, and the corners they cut include quality of logging, equipment maintenance, wages, and worker safety.

Logging is the most dangerous job in the U.S., according to the U.S. Labor Dept. The death rate among loggers is 129 per 100.000 employees, compared with 37.5 for miners. Charlie Hiatt's father, Kay Hiatt, was killed in a logging accident when a stump rolled down a hill and crushed him. His son-in-law had his back run over by a loader. "I've been hit over the head by trees four or five times, twice without a hard-hat," one choker setter told me. "once I got hit in the face by a cable," says a logger, "I woke up two days later."

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.

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