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Notes on the miners strike, 1984-1985

By Steven - LibCom, January 11, 2007

The miners strike of 1984-85 will always be remembered in British working class history as the most significant turning point in the power relationship between the working class organisations of the trade unions, and the state representing the interests of the privileged minority in the late twentieth century. The losses endured by the working class and their organisations as a whole with the defeat of the miners are still to this day attempting to be rebuilt, as are the shattered communities of the ex-pit towns. Understanding the struggle and the lessons that can be drawn from it during the months of 1984-85 are of utmost importance if these organisations are to be rebuilt, as well as the working class movements as a whole.

In 1974 the then Conservative government had been replaced with a Labour one, brought down by the miners strike of the same year. The Labour government realised that the working class, particularly the miners, had political power to exercise, and that if exercised correctly could force change in even the leadership of the country. Obviously wanting to avoid this in future, Labour set up think tank groups to decide the best course of action to stop this happening again, bringing an end to their term of power. The think tanks set up pinpointed the idea of national pay bargaining (a centralised structure where issues on pay and conditions could be discussed by miners across the country, which had ended area disputes over wages and other such inequalities) as a main factor in the power that the miners wielded. Their power was in their unified strength behind the organisation and the unifying nature of this structure was recognised as the reason for the successful strikes of 1969, 1972 and 1974. Labour introduced 'Area Incentive Schemes' alongside the structure of national pay bargaining and against national ballots in an attempt to split the miners. This meant now that wages and conditions would be decided locally, and the area was given the higher degree of importance than the national. The scheme was most well received in Nottinghamshire and the Midlands (against national ballot decisions), where as we will see, sought to consolidate its own interests ahead of that of the majority of miners on strike during 1984-85. However, Labour lost the next general election, and the Conservatives again came to power in 1979 with Margaret Thatcher at the helm and the Area Incentive Schemes carried on as the Labour government had initiated them.

The events of 1984 were a culmination of many years of struggle by the miners to raise wages and conditions, and in the years immediately previously to the great strike to prevent earlier attempts of pit closures, the most obvious attempt being in 1981 by the still new Thatcher government. The threat of strike action had however, caused the Thatcher government to abandon this and led to the Yorkshire miners to pass a resolution declaring that if a pit was to be closed for any reason other than exhaustion or geological difficulties, then a strike would take place to defend it.

What happened to Teamsters & Turtles? Arctic Drilling, the Labor Movement, and the Environment

By Alexis Buss - Industrial Worker, October 2001

"They couldn't have done it without the unions," is the sentiment echoed across the environmental movement, as U.S. President George Bush's energy plan passed 240-189 in the House. Although few expect the plan to drill for domestic oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to pass the Senate (although with the potential for war around the comer, political dynamics are bound to change), many are left scratching their heads, wondering what the future will be for a fledgling environmentalist-labor coalition dubbed "Teamsters and Turtles" during 1999's anti-WIO protests in Seattle.

Media pundits had long labeled the ANWR drilling plan as politically unviable because of the Democrats' control of the Senate. A last-minute intervention by the Teamsters played a major part in pushing the plan through the House, and Teamster President James Hoffa plans to help target the Senate when the bill hits the floor in late September.

The Teamsters came aboard as a lobby group for the plan after a closed-door meeting in May with Vice President Dick Cheney and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Leaders from over twenty labor organizations were present, mostly from construction and maritime. The AFL-CIO also endorsed the Bush plan late in the game, which came as an unexpected move as several power-hitters in the federation including the Service Employees International Union and the Communication Workers of America had stated their opposition to the scheme. (The AFL-ClO's 1993 convention passed a resolution that, in part, called on the country to explore ANWR for oil with safeguards to protect the environment.)

Bush's energy plan - supposedly instigated by the California energy crisis [1] and unstable gasoline prices - calls for building almost 2,000 new power plants and 18,000 miles of fuel pipelines over the next two decades. The Bush teams figures indicated that each new power plant would create 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs, while every 1,000 miles of pipeline would bring with it another 5,000 jobs. And there would be another job boom if nuclear power plants came back into the picture. All told, over 700,000 jobs would be created, according to a 1990 report of the Wharton Econometric Institute, paid for by the American Petroleum Institute. (Not to mention the plethora of jobs to be had cleaning up from environmental disasters, guarding radioactive wastes for tens of thousands of years, and such.)

Unions at the Cheney meeting have joined a business-led coalition called "Job Power: Americans for Energy Employment." It's worth noting that Cheney earned more than $20 million last year as CEO of Halliburton, an oil-field services company that would benefit greatly from loosening regulations on refineries and pipelines.

The Mutants are Coming

By Steve Hastings - June 29, 1999

The development of the technology of Genetic Modification (G.M.) stretches back decades but most people have started to become aware of its implications during the 90’s.First in the mid 90’s Monsanto introduced rB.S.T. a G.M. growth hormone designed to increase milk yields in the U.S. After some controversy the E.U. decided to ban its import into Europe, a decision which is likely to be overturned by the World Trade Organisation (W.T.O.) soon. Then in 1996 shipments of soyabeans genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup started to arrive in this country prompting the first major signs of public disquiet. More recently the sacking of Dr Puzstai from the Rowett Institute for claiming that consuming G.M. potatoes harmed rats provoked quite a food scare frenzy in the capitalist media. Pictures of a green faced Tony Blair with bolts through his neck under the headline "The Prime Monster" probably made all but the hardest of us chuckle but the whole "Frankenstein Foods" paranoia tended to obscure the environmental and social disasters which will follow if the corporations carry out their plans to introduce G.M. on a large scale.

"LET THEM EAT OIL".

G.M. is only the latest stage in the the industrialisation of food production which has been going on throughout the whole post war period under the control of the petro-chemical-pharmaceutical multinationals that have come to dominate the global economy. More powerful than many nation states (in 1995 of the 100 most powerful ‘economies’ in the world 48 were multinational corporations) they, along with the international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, W.T.O. etc) constitute the economic side of the New World Order with N.A.T.O. taking on the role of political centralisation.

The process of industrialising food production which they have been imposing on us over the last few decades consists of destroying subsistence and organic farming and replacing it with a system based on:

  • Massive inputs of petro-chemicals in the form of fuel for machinery, artificial fertilisers and biocides (herbicides and pesticides).
  • Production for a global market rather than for direct consumption (subsistence) or local markets.
  • More dependence on animal products and the intensification of animal exploitation (factory farming).
  • The concentration of land ownership into fewer hands.
  • Dependence on multinational corporations for seed. Major chemical, pharmaceutical and oil multinationals have taken over more than 120 seed companies since the 60,s. The top 5 seed producers now control 75% of the world market. Hybrid, so-called ‘High Yielding Varieties’, have yields 20-40% lower in the second generation if replanted and are hence economically sterile’.
  • The replacement of mixed cropping systems suitable to local conditions with monocultures.

The results of this process (sometimes known as the ‘Green Revolution’) have been landlessness, poverty & starvation for many in the so-called ‘Third World’ as well as massive degradation of the natural world through chemical pollution and loss of biodiversity.

Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport

Dan Fortson Interviews Dave Chism and Bob Cramer - The Public Outlaw Show on November 27, 1997, KMUD 91.1 FM Southern Humboldt County, 88.3 FM Northern Humboldt County, and 88.9 FM Mendocino County

Dan Fortson: Good evening everyone. This is Dan Fortson, and we're gonna have a talk show here. I've a couple of guests in the studio with me; Dave Chism, former union representative, Dave, welcome.[1]

Dave Chism: Hi, how are you doing?

Dan Fortson: Just fine, and Bob Cramer, member of Taxpayers for Headwaters and outspoken advocate, welcome Bob.

Bob Cramer: Thank you.

Dan Fortson: Why don't we start off with a little bit of introductions. Dave you want to tell us something about yourself?

Dave Chism: Well, I'm a local boy

Dan Fortson: Okay

Dave Chism: --grew up in Trinidad, in that area. I went to work in the timber industry at the paper mill at Simpson. A lot of the members of my family have worked for various companies around here. I think we've worked for pretty much all of them. LP and Simpson primarily. I was pretty active in union politics out there and trying to build some working relationship with the environmental community. So it was kind of an interesting place to be in, especially when the mill went down, there was a lot of animosity about that.

Dan Fortson: And Bob, what have you been up to lately?

Bob Cramer: Well, I'm a native Californian, I've been living up here for five years. I came up here to go to school after I lost my job because of a corporate takeover and because I'm a Vietnam veteran, a disabled veteran. The V.A. offered to send me up to go to school here on vocational rehabilitation. My major was Environmental Science, and I had a little problem with [Calculus] II. So I decided to get into Environmental Ethics, and while I was in environmental ethics I started learning about what was actually going on up here. Of course, because of the lack of news about what was going on, I really didn't have any Idea. But when I found about what was going on in the Headwaters, I joined the protesters last September 15th [1996]. I noticed that all of the people that were at the [MAXXAM property] line who were waiting to cross over [to be arrested] were all about my age, which is 53 right now, by the way, and I was kind of stunned! It looked like members of the community were all around me. And we started talking.

So anyway, after that action a few of us formed Taxpayers for Headwaters. Because we felt that the people who were representing environmentalism in this area were not just Earth First! And EPIC and Trees [Foundation], but also people up in Eureka, Fortuna, and the other areas who were business people and professionals and regular taxpaying citizens, if you will, who are very concerned about overharvesting of our natural resources. Because we can see into the future a little bit. It doesn't take much to extrapolate what happens when you overharvest and not only that, there is a great History of overharvesting and how it has devastated other areas of the country. And we just didn't want to see it happen to this area. So we formed Taxpayers for Headwaters and now were about 800 members strong. And we've been involved in doing a lot of things. We've gone before the [Humboldt] County Board of Supervisors. We've talked to law enforcement, we've been to several hearings, senate hearing, natural resources hearings. We've called for grand jury investigations, we've just really been involved in the situation and basically that's what my background is and why I'm here today.

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.

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.

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.

The Chancellor is a Bank Robber

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, October 9, 1991.

Things are not going well at the California State Universities. Barry Munitz, vice president of redwood raping, pension stealing Maxxam Corp. has recently been appointed chancellor. And as one of his first official acts he is spending one half million dollars to remodel and staff the new $1.2 million Mediterranean-style mansion that the University just bought him in Long Beach. The kitchen and living room are being enlarged, the closets updated, and a stained glass window is being installed over the tub in the master bath.

Coming at a time of serious budget crunch, when the CSU's have just raised fees by 20%, laid of 1,000 faculty and canceled 4,000 class sections, some people think Munitz redecorating project is in bad taste. But Munitz, who is used to living high, doesn't see what the fuss is all about. He says mansion is cheaper than the last chancellor.s mansion, and anyway he needs to be able to entertain important people there. Alan Wade, a professor at Sacramento State disagrees. "I don't think our chancellor needs to live like a sultan while we turn away students and lay off faculty. What's he going to do, entertain in the bath tub?"

But the Munitz mansion is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. The real controversy around Barry Munitz involves his incredible background. While most chancellor wannabes were plodding along in the halls of academia, Munitz was making millions in private industry, bankrupting an S&L in a junk bond scam and looting the redwoods for Maxxam.

The Sierra Club Surrender

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 20, 1991

Things got a little out of hand here in the redwood region last year. People chaining themselves to logging equipment, throwing themselves in front of bulldozers, or marching 2000 strong through Fort Bragg shouting "Earth First! Profits Last!" A local grassroots forestry reform initiative gaining statewide support and almost passing (but for the sabotage of the big money men, who are ultimately all on the same side). Lawsuits flying. Yellow ribbons waving. Fellerbunchers self-igniting and burning in the woods. Earth First!ers swimming in Harry Merlo's hot tub. Me getting bombed and not having the audacity to die. It was not an easy year for the timber companies. They managed to get out a record timber harvest, but at the expense of public opinion. Word got out that they are slaughtering the redwoods, and it's become a national, even international issue.

So the timber companies say they want to negotiate. They recognize that timber reform is inevitable, and they want to avoid another "costly initiative." They're afraid to even say the R-word, Redwood Summer, but you can be sure the protests are just as much on their minds. Anyway, in order to appear to negotiate without having to worry about actually changing their greedy timber practices, the money men have chosen Sierra Club State Rep Gail Lucas to represent the environmentalists. Lucas has little support, even among Sierra Club members. She sure doesn't represent the people who wrote the Forests Forever initiative, organized the Redwood Summer protests, or filed the grassroots lawsuits. Lucas' salary as a negotiator is being paid by money man Hal Arbit. And from the results of her negotiations, it looks like Gail Lucas is a better representative of Sierra Pacific then Sierra Club. Here are some of the key provisions of the "Forest Policy Agreement:"

Workers, Corporations, and Redwood Summer: Whose Side Are We On?

Judi Bari, et. al, Redwood Summer Coalition – from the Redwood Summer Handbook, second edition, ca June 1990

When you’re sitting in front of a bulldozer or walking a picket line and an angry logger is screaming at you to “Get a Job!” and “Go Home!,” it’s easy to forget that timber workers are not our enemies. And when they see thousands of college students and other environmental activists from out of the area coming to the Northcoast threatening their livelihoods (as they see it), it’s easy for them to see us as the enemy too.

This is a tragic mistake, for workers and environmentalists are natural allies. Loggers and mill-workers are victimized by the giant timber companies. Since their whole way of life—their jobs, homes, families—depends on unsustainable forest practices, we must make the timber companies pay for the education, retraining and job placement needed to cushion the blow of conversion to ecologically health timber practices. It’s easy for us—since our future and our kids’ future does not depend on continued over-logging—to demand others to sacrifice for the good of the planet, but without concrete support to make change possible; they will not listen seriously.

Over the years, timber workers have been subject to some of the most dangerous working conditions in the country, as well as speedups, low pay, low/no benefits, and near-total company control over their lives. Fighting to better their conditions, Pacific Coast loggers and millworkers have a long history of militant unionism. The logging camps of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia were strongholds of the Industrial Workers of the World. Early timber unions, including the IWA (International Woodworkers of America) were radical unions, and often led bitter strikes which the corporations violently put down. From early on, the woodsworkers witnessed and protested the destruction of streams, hillsides and forests caused by company practices of maximizing profit at the expense of both the land and the workers. Indeed, the workers knew better than anyone what was going on in the woods, but lacked the power to stop it. In our capitalist “free market” economy, it is companies, not workers who control production.

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