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Lester Reynolds

Redwood Uprising: From One Big Union to Earth First! and the Bombing of Judi Bari (Steve Ongerth)

Introduction
Chapter 1 : An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Chapter 2 : Pollution, Love it or Leave it!
Chapter 3 : He Could Clearcut Forests Like No Other
Chapter 4 : Maxxam’s on the Horizon
Chapter 5 : No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!
Chapter 6 : If Somebody Kills Themselves, Just Blame it on Earth First!
Chapter 7 : Way Up High in The Redwood Giants
Chapter 8 : Running for Our Lives
Chapter 9 : And they Spewed Out their Hatred
Chapter 10 : Fellow Workers, Meet Earth First!
Chapter 11 : I Knew Nothin’ Till I Met Judi
Chapter 12 : The Day of the Living Dead Hurwitzes
Chapter 13 : They’re Closing Down the Mill in Potter Valley
Chapter 14 : Mother Jones at the Georgia Pacific Mill
Chapter 15 : Hang Down Your Head John Campbell
Chapter 16 : I Like Spotted Owls…Fried
Chapter 17 : Logging to Infinity
Chapter 18 : The Arizona Power Lines
Chapter 19 : Aristocracy Forever
Chapter 20 : Timberlyin’
Chapter 21 : You Fucking Commie Hippies!
Chapter 22 : I am the Lorax; I speak for the Trees
Chapter 23 : Forests Forever
Chapter 24 : El Pio
Chapter 25 : Sabo Tabby vs. Killa Godzilla
Chapter 26 : They Weren’t Gonna Have No Wobbly Runnin’ Their Logging Show
Chapter 27 : Murdered by Capitalism
Chapter 28 : Letting the Cat Out of the Bag
Chapter 29 : Swimmin’ Cross the Rio Grande
Chapter 30 : She Called for Redwood Summer
Chapter 31 : Spike a Tree for Jesus
Chapter 32 : Now They Have These Public Hearings…
Chapter 33 : The Ghosts of Mississippi Will be Watchin’
Chapter 34 : We’ll Have an Earth Night Action
Chapter 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”
Chapter 36 : A Pipe Bomb Went Rippin’ Through Her Womb
Chapter 37 : Who Bombed Judi Bari?
Chapter 38 : Conclusion

This entire book and all of its chapters are also available for viewing at judibari.info.

Eco Wobblies: Revolutionary Ecology and the Development of Earth First!-IWW Local #1

By Michael Gonzales - dissertation - May 19, 2017

Environmental historians have shown that the development of the modern environmental movement has been marked by a perceived tension between the interests and attitudes of workers and those of environmental activists. This paper details an important exception to that trend. In late 1989 members of the radical environmental group Earth First! joined with lumber workers in Northern California to form Earth First!-IWW Local #1.

In the words of Local #1 leader Judi Bari, this labor union acted as a “bridge between environmentalists and timber workers.” This essay examines the factors that brought workers and environmental activists together in this short-lived experiment in what some have termed “green syndicalism.” This essay utilizes archival documentary evidence and the accounts of movement activists to demonstrate a more complex relationship between Earth First! and the IWW (and between labor and environmentalism in general), with deeper historical roots than has been previously understood In doing so, this essay challenges the assumptions of the environment versus labor dichotomy and suggests the potential for solidarity and cooperation between environmentalists and workers.

Read the Report (PDF).

Chapter 28 : Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

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

At their first meeting, the members of IWW Local #1 had agreed upon a policy that they would not consent to interviews in the press because—while Earth First!ers could be open about their militant radicalism, since they didn’t have a direct economic relationship with the big timber companies or the gyppos—the workers, on the other hand, risked the loss of their job, or even their standing in the community if they spoke out. The G-P mill workers hit by the PCB spill were the exception, of course, because by the time they had turned to IWW Local #1, they had already had their standing taken away from them, and some—such as Treva Vandenbosch and Frank Murray—had been forced to quit. On the other hand, the P-L dissidents—such as Kelly Bettiga, Pete Kayes, Les Reynolds, and Bob Younger were already under intense scrutiny for the ESOP campaign and their unsuccessful appeals to the NLRB—and the L-P workers feeding information to Bari—including Don Beavers and Randy Veach, all could be fired in a heartbeat if they were linked to the “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.” [1]

After the FBI sting operation that entrapped five of their comrades in Arizona, North Coast Earth First!ers were understandably wary of their dealings with the press, with good reason. With the region increasingly resembling a pressure cooker on overdrive due to the Corporate Timber reaction to Earth First!’s direct actions, EPIC’s lawsuits, the potential listing of the spotted owl as endangered, L-P’s outsourcing, and several ballot initiatives, the bosses were more likely than ever to ramp up their propaganda mill. The added pressures of underground IWW union organizing activity required especially tight security from the activists. Sometimes even the left-liberal press, small and limited though its circulation tended to be, could cause more harm than good. Judi Bari was especially aware of this fact.

Even if a press interview was sympathetic to the efforts of IWW Local 1 and the workers’ privacy respected, there was a sense that reporters might sensationalize the matter. In December of 1989, freelance reported Julie Gilden, whose articles often ran in publications such as The Village Voice approached Judi Bari about conducting just such an interview with her and timber-worker members of IWW Local #1. Bari informed Gilden of the branch’s aforementioned policy, and the latter claimed to agree to respect the IWW members’ wishes, but wanted to ask Bari some background questions on the IWW’s history and the local culture of Humboldt and Mendocino County. Bari consented, assuming that Gilden was completely forthright. She wasn’t. [2]

Chapter 12 : The Day of the Living Dead Hurwitzes

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

“I’m sure as owners and managers, the employees of (Pacific Lumber) will protect their resources through the concept of sustained yields…Pacific Lumber Co. and the redwoods are a national environmental issue. National public support for employee ownership will be forthcoming from around our great country.”

—Rick Ellis, Eureka Times-Standard, October 2, 1988

“Shouldn’t we stop exporting our logs and stop selling to other mills so our young employees will have a job in the future? What about the generation that follows?

—Lester Reynolds, Pacific Lumber monorail mechanic.

No sooner had the IWW joined forces with Earth First! on the North Coast when they found their hands full. One of the provisions of the recently passed Proposition 70 was the purchase (at least in theory) of several parcels of forest land, including the highly contested Goshawk Grove owned by Eel River Sawmills, which comprised a 900 acre tract of virgin redwoods and Douglas fir at the headwaters of the Mattole River. ERS had committed to negotiating the sale of that grove to the public, but their vice president, Dennis Scott, had made unreasonable demands including a prohibition on media coverage, no public comment, approval of several preexisting THPs within the parcel in question, an offer of much less land than had been proposed by the environmentalists, and finally that they be paid in old growth logs purchased from P-L instead of cash. P-L management no doubt approved of this Faustian bargain (indeed, it is not out of the question that they had suggested it), because it benefitted Maxxam’s bottom line. The CDF kept threatening to approve one of ERS’s demanded THPs (1-88-520), and EPIC responded by declaring that they would seek a TRO. Meanwhile, Earth First! and others organized their supporters for a direct action to prevent any logging there. [1]

On the surface, it seemed that defending the Sanctuary Forest would not be difficult. Like the fight for the nearby Sally Bell Grove, the fight to preserve this grove had gone on for at least a decade, and at least 250 local citizens, including veterans of various environmental campaigns in the “Mateel” region, Earth First!, and EPIC had pledged their support. As luck would have it, fate would deal them a number of twists. First, in what amounted to a clear case of bureaucratic stonewalling, the CDF kept obscuring and changing the perspective date for which they would review THP 520. Finally, on October 25, 1988, CDF resource manager Len Theiss approved it at 4:45 PM on October 25, 1988. By that time the 250 activists, including Greg King, were in position, along with an additional 21 Earth First!ers who had been temporarily recruited from Oregon following a local rendezvous recently held there, but Earth First! found its numbers divided by another action not too far away. [2]

Following the California Rendezvous, Judi Bari had immediately involved herself in organizing forest defense campaigns and building bridges with local activists hitherto ignored by Earth First!. Bari’s first move following the September gathering had been to call a meeting of Earth First! in Ukiah, at which Micheal Huddleston and Steven Day, who were not Earth First!ers, but sympathetic local watershed activists, attended and requested Earth First!’s assistance in defending the 16,000 acre Cahto Peak wilderness in northwestern Mendocino County that was in danger of being clearcut, again by ERS, in a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) timber sale. Ukiah Earth First! reached consensus in favor of assisting them, and planned a “wilderness walk” (essentially a trespass) to scope out the threatened area. [3] Huddleston and Day feared that cutting would begin in the spring of 1989, but rumors circulated that the date might be moved up to as late October. Sure enough, on October 24, the day before ERS was to begin logging in Goshawk Grove, A call came in from the newly opened Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) in Ukiah—which was staffed by Earth First!ers Betty and Gary Ball—that announced that ERS was already cutting logging roads into the Cahto Wilderness! [4]

Quickly, Judi Bari scrambled approximately 30 additional Earth First!ers (including Darryl Cherney) and other local environmentalists to defend the Cahto Wilderness from ERS. While the Sanctuary Forest defenders successfully held off ERS there, the hastily mobilized Cahto “wilderness walk” managed to shut down the road building actions. The latter mobilization involved the use of two dozen cleverly placed road blockades to slow down the loggers’ advance—as there was only one remote forest road into the threatened stand—but the loggers got paid anyway (as it was a BLM sale). Additionally, since this action was organized on the fly in a huge hurry, the Earth First!ers and locals improvised cleverly, as Huddleston and Day contacted the Cahto Indian Tribe, who in turn contacted California Senator Alan Cranston, and discovered that the sale violated conditions of a treaty with the Cahto. [5] North Coast Earth First!ers and IWW members had helped manage to win what they thought was a two-front battle, but they soon learned that they had won on three fronts! [6]

Chapter 5 : No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!

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

“One man, Charles Hurwitz, is going to destroy the largest remaining block of redwoods out of sheer arrogance. Only we the people can stop him.”

—Dave Foreman, October 22, 1986.[1]

Well I come from a long, long line of tree-fallin’ men,
And this company town was here before my grandpappy settled in,
We kept enough trees a-standin’ so our kids could toe the line,
But now a big corporation come and bought us out, got us working double time…

—lyrics excerpted from Where are We Gonna Work When the Trees are Gone?, by Darryl Cherney, 1986.

On the surface, very little seemed to have changed in Scotia for its more than 800 residents, but deep down, they all knew that the future was very much uncertain. Some seemed unconcerned, such as 18 year Pacific Lumber veteran Ted Hamilton, who declared, “We’re just going on as always,” or his more recently hired coworker, millworker Keith Miller, who had been at the company less than six years and who stated, “It doesn’t bother me much.”[2] Indeed, many of the workers seemed to welcome their newfound financial prosperity. [3] However, there were at least as many workers whose assessments were quite pessimistic, including millworker Ken Hollifield, a 19 year veteran who opined, “I’m sure this place won’t be here in five to seven years.” Former millworker and then-current owner of the Rendezvous Bar in Rio Dell, George Kelley, echoed these sentiments stating, “For 2½ years they’ve got a good thing going. After that they don’t know what’s happening.” Dave Galitz dismissed the naysayers’ concerns as typical fear of change, but careful estimates of the company’s harvesting rates bore out the pessimistic assessments. In the mills and the woods, however, production had increased substantially, to the point that many were working 50 and 60 hours per week. If there was to be any organized dissent, it would be difficult to keep it together, because the workers had little time to spare.[4] There seemed to be little they could do outside of a union campaign, and the IWA had neither been inspiring nor successful in their attempt.

Deep in the woods however, the changes were readily obvious. In 1985, the old P-L had received approval from the California Department of Forestry (CDF) to selectively log 5,000 acres.[5] With John Campbell at the helm, under the new regime, the company filed a record number of timber harvest plans (THPs) immediately following the sale, and all of them were approved by the CDF. There was more than a hint of a conflict of interest in the fact that the director of the agency, Jerry Pertain, had owned stock in the old Pacific Lumber and had cashed in mightily after the merger. [6] Since the takeover, the new P-L had received approval to log 11,000 acres, 10,000 of which were old growth, and there was every indication that these timber harvests would be accomplished through clearcutting.[7] Pacific Lumber spokesmen who had boasted about the company’s formerly benign forest practices now made the dubious declaration that clearcutting was the best method for ensuring both long term economic and environmental stability.

P-L forester Robert Stephens claimed that the old rate was unsustainable anyway, declaring, “About five years ago, it became apparent that there is going to be an end to old-growth. We simply cannot operate on a 2,000 year rotation.”

Public affairs manager David Galitz repeated what would soon become the new regime’s gospel, that clearcutting had actually been in the works for some time before the hint of a merger, even though in actual fact, this was untrue.

Pacific Lumber’s logging operations which had hitherto been idyllic by comparison now outpaced those of even Louisiana-Pacific and Georgia-Pacific. They tripled their logging crews, bringing in loggers from far away who had never known the old Pacific Lumber and had no particular loyalty to the fight to prevent Hurwitz’s plunder of the old company. [8] Most of the new hires were gyppos, and there were rumblings among the old timers that the quality of logging had decreased precipitously. In John Campbell’s mind, such inefficiencies were likely to be temporary and any small losses that occurred were more than offset by the much larger short term gain. The expense to the viability of the forest, however, was never entered into the ledger.[9] One resident who lived very close to the border of Pacific Lumber’s land relayed their impressions, writing:

“I live at the end of (the) road in Fortuna. Maxxam’s Pacific Lumber logging trucks drive by our house six days a week now. (It has) never been like this in the past. Ordinarily, logging was five days a week in summer…

“From Newberg Road you can look up and see the damage they are doing to the badly eroding hills, now bare of third growth. They are logging third growth from their graveled road now. As the trucks come by, it is amazing to see how small their (logs are), like flagpoles.

“What will be the value of their property when all of the trees are gone? Are they trying to eliminate all other competition—L-P, Simpson, etc.—as their long-range goal?”[10]

Environmentalists expressed alarm and outrage at the sweeping and regressive changes that had been instituted now that Hurwitz had assumed control of Pacific Lumber. John DeWitt, executive director of Save the Redwoods League, the organization that had been instrumental in coaxing the Murphy Dynasty to adopt sustainable logging practices in the first place, expressed these fears stating, “We thought they practiced excellent forestry over the past 125 years and deplore the fact they’ll double the cut. It may result in the ultimate unemployment of those who work at Pacific Lumber.”

Chapter 4 : Maxxam’s on the Horizon

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

“There’s a little story about the golden rule: those who have the gold, rule”

—Charles Hurwitz speaking to Pacific Lumber employees in December 1985

In the town of Kilgore, Texas was born a tailor’s son,
From the killing of the Indians he learned how the west was won.
His name was Charlie Hurwitz and he terrorized the land,
His killing field was Wall Street and his gang was called Maxxam…

—lyrics excerpted from Maxxam’s on the Horizon, by Darryl Cherney

By the fall of 1985, the Pacific Lumber Company (PL), based in southern Humboldt County, had existed for over 115 years and remained a virtual eye in the hurricane of class conflict, capitalist boom and bust, and ecological battles that raged throughout the Pacific Northwest. The company had been established in 1869 along with the company town of Forestville with the help of two Nevada venture capitalists named A. W. MacPhereson and Henry Wetherbee for a grand total of $750,000. [1] It was, in fact, the first foray by absentee owners into the redwood lumber industry of Humboldt County, predating even the California Redwood Club. Although it didn’t commence actual lumber operations until 1887, it grew quickly, and by the last decade of the 19th Century, it was the largest lumber company in the county. [2] By 1904, P-L owned 40,000 acres of timberland and its mill (“A”) operating on two ten-hour shifts, could produce 300,000 feet of cut lumber daily. By 1909, the construction of a second mill (“B”) increased the company’s productivity to a whopping 450,000 feet per day with one eight-hour shift working in both mills. The milling complex was one of the largest such facilities on the Pacific Coast. The town’s population increased from 454 in 1890 to over 3,000, and the company’s workforce numbered at least 2,000. [3]

There had been but one significant change in Pacific Lumber’s ownership over its history. In 1905, Maine lumberman Simon J. Murphy acquired the company with the help of east coast investors. [4] Upon acquiring the company he changed the name of the town to Scotia, in honor of his family’s roots in Nova Scotia. [5] It was under Murphy’s leadership that the company instituted its “welfare-capitalist” paternalism in a clear attempt to stave off attempts by the IWW (and other unions) to gain a foothold among Pacific Lumber’s employees. [6] In an effort to ensure that peace would reign supreme, the company closed its saloon, “an infamous whorehouse and gambling parlor” known as the “Green Goose”, in 1910, and replaced it with a bank. That establishment was later transformed into Bertain’s Laundry, which would at one time become the largest cleaning establishment in the county. [7] By the second decade of the 20th Century, Scotia was one of the nation’s most developed company towns, boasting of two churches, two banks, a saloon, a hospital, a schoolhouse, a library, a clubhouse, and a large company owned general store. It also included several cultural and social institutions, including four fraternal orders and a volunteer fire department. [8]

The IWW spared no vitriol at the obvious—and essentially overt—attempt by the employing class to steal their thunder, but the scheme worked. [9] The company wasn’t ever entirely free of dissenters, and there was at least one attempt at a wildcat in 1946 during the Great Strike. [10] Yet, the company remained nonunion throughout its history, resisting organizing attempts by the IWW, various AFL unions, and the IWA, even though ironically it was the threat of unionization that had inspired P-L to implement its benevolent dictatorship in the first place. [11] When Murphy’s grandson, Albert Stanwood Murphy, assumed the role of Chairman of the P-L board of directors, he carried on and enhanced his grandfather’s practices. [12]

Timberlyin' (newsletter, 1989-90)

Introduction by x344543, August 31, 2013:

In her descriptions of the various efforts by Earth First! - IWW Local #1 to build alliances with timber workers on northwestern California's redwood coast, Judi Bari occasionally refers to an underground news letter called Timberlyin' published by a group of dissident Pacific Lumber workers, first in the article Timber Wars, published in the Industrial Worker in October 1989...

Pacific Lumber is another of the "big three" timber companies in the area. Until recently, it was a locally based, family-run operation paying good wages and amazing benefits. Pacific Lumber also treated the forest better than most and, because of its conservative logging and avoidance of clearcutting, has ended up owning most of the privately-owned old growth redwood that's left in the world.

But in 1986, Pacific Lumber was taken over in a leveraged buyout by MAXXAM Corporation, a high-finance holding company owned by Charles Hurwitz. Hurwitz financed the takeover with junk bonds, and is now liquidating the assets of the company to pay off the debt. But in this case, the assets of the company are the last of the ancient redwoods. Hurwitz has tripled the cut, instituting clearcutting. gutted the pension plan, and started working people overtime.

Employees reacted by attempting to organize an ESOP, or Employee Stock Ownership Plan, so that they could buy the company back and protect their jobs and community. As many as 300 people came to an ESOP meeting at its height. But Hurwitz, of course, refused to sell, and the ESOP plan died. MAXXAM expected everyone to just shut up and go back to work at that point. Instead some of the workers started publishing an underground paper called Timberlyin' (as opposed to the company's paper, Timberline), which lampoons management and, while rejecting the misleadership of both the ESOP and the AFL unions, calls on the workers to organize for self-protection.

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