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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.

...and again in an interview she gave to Douglas Bevington in Summer of 1993, called Earth First! in Northern California:

At this point, I met some of the workers who had been on the executive committee of the ESOP who were interested in resisting. We put out a newsletter on the workroom floor. The company paper was called Timberline, so this newsletter was called Timberlyin’. The PALCO paper had a skyline of trees, ours had a skyline of stumps. This was distributed on the workroom floor, and it was a rank-and-file newsletter that lampooned management and criticized them for both their work rules and the forestry practices.

This strategy closely matches an earlier rank and file militant unionism strategy used by Bari when she was a rank and file postal worker, which she describes in an interview conducted by Beth Bosk conducted in March 1990, just before Bari led various northern California Earth First! locals to renounce tree spiking at the admonishment of mill worker Gene Lawhorn:

We put out a paper. This could be an Earth First! newspaper, the whole tone of it. The Postal Service’s was called Postal Life, ours was called Postal Strife. The first article was “Whatever happened to the Eight-Hour Day?” I mean, these are the feds we’re working for! We had big back-page cartoons. We had a “postal buzzard”, which looked just like the postal eagle, but it was a buzzard instead, smoking a joint . We had slogans like “You mail them, we maul them.” People started sneaking in cameras and taking pictures of this messed up mail.

Darryl Cherney later revealed that he, also, worked on Timberlyin' along with Pacific Lumber workers Kelly Bettiga, Pete Kayes, John Maurer, and Lester Reynolds.

Featured here, are the only known issues of Timberlyin

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