The Latest News and Updates:

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

To know who bombed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, it is much more important to determine why they bombed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.

The two were targeted because they represented a viable democratic, populist, grassroots challenge to the powers that be, in this case, Corporate Timber, and its established paradigm of total control over the redwood forests of California’s North Coast and by extension—as you will see in this book—America’s forests in general, the modern timber industry, and capitalism itself. They stood upon the crest of a wave of change that was poised to undermine the existing order, and she was more than willing to ride it to its conclusion. That wave was a confluence of both environmentalist and labor movements and, if left unchecked in its course, it could very well have washed away institutions, both “private” and “public” that were, by many people’s accounts, corrupt and rotten to their very core.

This book chronicles these struggles and how a divided community began to overlook their differences and fight against the real outside agitators: multinational corporations. The struggle is no less relevant today as multinational corporations continue to receive massive bailouts, working people struggle more and more just to make ends meet, and global warming threatens not only old growth forests, but civilization as we know it.

The book will soon be available in hard copy, but in the meantime, the individual chapters are being released weekly on this site. To read them in order, visit this page.

The most recently published chapter is featured immediately below:

Chapter 22 : I am the Lorax; I speak for the Trees

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

And then I got mad,
I got terribly mad,
I yelled at the Lorax, “Now listen here, Dad!”
All you do is yap and say, “Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!”
Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you,
I intend to go on doing just what I do!”

--by Dr. Seuss, 1971

In an attempt to put a damper on the escalating conflicts over timber on the North Coast, Doug Bosco finally engineered a “compromise” between the timber industry and some environmentalists over the spotted owl. Under the congressman’s plan, the set asides for spotted owl pairs would be increased from 1,600 to 2,000 acres. However, to many of the more forward thinking environmentalists, this was inadequate, because studies showed that 2,600 acres was the minimum required size of a viable spotted owl habitat. Patricia Schifferle, director for the California and Nevada region of the Wilderness Society declared, “For now, I don’t really see that as a compromise…it’s like business as usual.” Judi Bari chimed in, “This kind of deal is why Earth First! doesn’t make deals…There is no solution there. The only solution would be sustained yield.” [1] Indeed, if Bosco had hoped to quell tensions, he failed miserably.

Meanwhile, back in Laytonville, Bill Bailey found a way to solve his problem, or at least he thought so. Convinced that the Laytonville school teachers were under the influence of “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs”, and needed stronger guidance from superintendant Brian Buckley, and convinced that Buckley needed tighter control from the Laytonville School Board, Bailey poured his financial resources into securing a majority of seats on that governing body. He started by getting himself elected, running ostensibly to oppose a development of a new high school on a questionable piece of land owned by real estate speculators, a project that was favored by the incumbent board members, but was unpopular among most of the community, including most progressives. He then managed to get his hired yes man, Mike Wilwand, as well as Art Harwood elected as well. Since Laytonville (the town) was unincorporated, but Laytonville Unified (the school district) was not, this was as close to a governing power that the community actually had. Bailey had his majority. [2]

Then, in mid September, Bill Bailey’s wife, Judith Bailey filed an official Request for Reconsideration of Materials form with the Laytonville School District requesting that The Lorax, which had been written eighteen years previously and had been on the required reading list for second graders for two years without comment, be removed. Mrs. Bailey cited California Education Code 60040 which prohibits references that “tend to demean, stereotype or be patronizing toward an occupation, vocation, or livelihood,” as grounds for removal, stating, “I feel when a second grader reads a line that says, ‘Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack,’ as a moral of the story, then he or she will feel that anyone who cuts down trees is bad.” Superintendant Buckley was duty bound to strike a special review committee, which was done composed of seven individuals including himself, two teachers, one librarian, the school library technician, and two district residents. One these two residents turned out to be Becky Harwood, Judith Bailey’s sister, Art Harwood’s wife. [3]

On Wednesday, September 13, 1989, a crowd filled the Laytonville Elementary School library to watch the review committee deliberate the issue. Naturally, Mrs. Harwood argued for the book’s removal, arguing that since it was written before the passage of current forestry legislation, it presented a misleading view of logging and that “Kids don’t have to feel bad about what their parents do.” Willits High School Librarian, Sue Jones, countered by saying, “You could use this book as a place of departure and talk about what you can do right in the forest. Someone from the lumber industry could come in and say how we used to do this, but we don’t do that anymore, and this is what we do now,” but this didn’t satisfy Bailey’s representative on the committee, insisting that people perceived the book as demeaning to the timber industry. [4]

Chapter 21 : You Fucking Commie Hippies!

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

“Fort Bragg has bred a race of people who live in two-week stints, called ‘halves’ which end every other Thursday with a trip to the bowling alley for highballs and to cash the paycheck. The most altruistic among these are church-going, family-and-roses, four-holidays-a-year American workers. At the other end of the line (sometimes in the same body) are people who would kill hippies with a certain fundamental zest; who are still angry about events of twenty years ago and have been patiently tearing up the woods ever since…People want to work the last few years [while the forest lasts], go back into the hard-to-reach places and cut those last trees, the way a tobacco addict wants to smoke all the butts in the house when stranded.”

—Crawdad Nelson, June 28, 1989

“It’s time for loggers—and employees of nuclear power plants, for that matter—to consider the idea that their jobs are no longer honorable occupations. They have no God-given right to devastate the earth to support themselves and their families.”

—Rob Anderson, June 21, 1989

With the arrival of summer, Corporate Timber organized its biggest backlash yet against the efforts by populist resistance to their practices, particularly the possible listing of the Northern Spotted Owl as an endangered species. Masterfully they whipped up gullible loggers and timber dependent communities into a mob frenzy, framing the very complex issue as simply an opportunistic effort by unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs to use the bird to shut down all logging everywhere forever. At the very least, they predicted (lacking any actual scientific studies to prove it) that listing the spotted owl as “endangered” would result in as much as a 33 percent reduction in timber harvesting activity throughout the region. Nothing could be further from the truth in the timber wars, of course, but that didn’t stop the logging industry from bludgeoning the press and public with this myth to the point of overkill.

A sign of the effectiveness of Corporate Timber’s propagandizing was the rapid adoption by timber workers, gyppo operators, and residents in timber dependent communities of yellow ribbons essentially symbolizing solidarity with the employers. [1] This symbol was far simpler than Bailey’s “Coat of Arms”, and such activity was encouraged, albeit subtly, by the corporations themselves, but the timber workers who had already been subjected to a constant barrage of anti-environmentalist propaganda were swayed easily. [2] One industry flyer even went so far as to say, “They do not know you, they have never met you, and the probably never will meet you; but they are your enemies nonetheless.” Yellow ribbons had been used for this purpose for several years already, but never on such a widespread scale. [3] Many of those sporting yellow ribbons, particularly on their car or truck antennae adopted other symbols as well. [4] These included t-shirts, bumper stickers, and signs with slogans such as “save a logger, eat an owl”, “spotted owl: tastes like chicken”, or “I like spotted owls: fried.” [5] Gyppo operators even began organizing “spotted owl barbecues” (with Cornish game hens standing in for the owls). [6]

All of this was anger directed at the environmentalists in a frenzy, which even the biggest enablers of Corporate Timber privately conceded was “knee jerk”. Pacific Lumber president John Campbell did what he could do sow more divisions by denouncing those that sought to preserve the spotted owl as “Citizens Against Virtually Everything” (CAVE). [7] Louisiana Pacific spokesman Shep Tucker declared, “We want to send a message across the country that this is not acceptable, and we can do it by pulling out all of the stops and descending on Redding in force.” [8] As if this weren’t enough, local governments of timber dependent communities, including Redding, Eureka, and Fortuna, got into the act and passed resolutions opposing the listing of the owl as endangered. [9] The climate of fear generated by this effort was so intense that Oregon Earth First!er, Karen Wood, who—with a handful of other local Earth First!ers—had walked picket lines in solidarity with striking Roseburg Forest Products workers;, commented that one could not venture into a single business without seeing pro-Corporate Timber propaganda in her timber dependent community. [10]

Chapter 20 : Timberlyin’

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

For the past 3 years we’ve been talked at, talked about, talked down to, and talked up. Isn’t it time that we start talking? Time that we started talking to each other about what’s happening at Palcotraz. Talking about overtime. Talking about who we are really working for anyway? Talking about Uncle Charle selling our logs across the ocean and selling us down the river.

Of course, working for 50 or so hours a week there’s not much time to talk to anyone. Nobody remembers the last time they talked to their wife or kids. So we need a real employee newsletter, don’t we? We can’t count on Uncle Charlie or Soupman John to tell us the truth. Let’s stop listening to their timber lyin’!

—Anonymous Pacific Lumber Workers, July 1989.

As bad as things might have seemed for the marginally organized Georgia Pacific millworkers of IWA Local 3-469, the nonunion Pacific Lumber experiences could easily be described as several degrees worse. For example, on Friday, May 19, 1989, 63 year-old Pacific Lumber maintenance millworker Clifford L. Teague, a ten-year company veteran, died when he fell or was sucked into the machinery and was dismembered while tending the hog conveyer belt in Scotia mill B. P-L vice president and controller Howard Titterington claimed that nobody witnessed the event, but some employees were convinced he had fallen into the chipper which ground up unused wood scraps into hog fuel. Fellow P-L employee Bob Younger, Teague’s friend and a harsh critic of the Maxxam regime, was convinced that the accident happened due to fatigue as a result of the 60-hour workweeks now common since the takeover. “They’re working us too hard…There have been too many accidents in the last three months…when you get tired and don’t stay alert all the time, you do things you probably wouldn’t do again…people don’t pay as much attention as they should,” declared Younger, and noted an accident in which another employee had been hit by a forklift and another in which a separate employee had lost a toe. [1]

Fellow P-L dissident Pete Kayes agreed that accidents had risen since the institution of the longer workweeks, but wasn’t sure that Teague’s death was directly attributable to them, since it had happened early in the shift, though perhaps Kayes had not considered the possibility of cumulative exhaustion. Titterington, on the other hand, flat-out denied that accidents had increased, and neither TEAM nor WECARE had anything to say about the matter. [2] Nobody knew for sure why this happened, and Maxxam was not particularly forthcoming about it. None of the pro-(Corporate)-timber publications issued so much as a blurb about the incident, although the matter was serious enough to warrant a mention in the Earth First! Journal. Although the latter neglected to mention Teague by name and though they got some of the details (such as his age and the date of his death) wrong, they at least covered the story. [3]

Chapter 19 : Aristocracy Forever

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

What do workers hold in common with a labor bureaucrat,
Who’s a class collaborationist and a boss’s diplomat,
With the money from our paychecks he is sitting getting fat,
While the union keeps us down. …

—Lyrics excerpted from Aristocracy Forever, by Judi Bari.

Meanwhile, back in Fort Bragg, there was “trouble in union city”—or what was left of it at any rate. Over the course of the previous four years, IWA Local #3-469 Business Representative Don Nelson had folded under pressure to the collaborationist leadership in the IWA, offered no resistance whatsoever to Georgia-Pacific’s outsourcing of its logging operation to gyppos, refused to offer solidarity to the UFCW in its boycott of Harvest Market, and had essentially bought G-P’s story on the PCB spill hook, line, and sinker. Now those chickens were coming home to roost. It was the middle of June 1989, and the union’s contract with G-P for the workers in the mill had expired, and the prospects for a peaceful round of negotiations or a new and improved contract did not look good to the workers.

The results of the just-expired contract, including its wage rollbacks in exchange for “productivity bonuses,” had been disastrous. G-P had not honored their promise to restore the wages they had cut the previous round of negotiations in 1985. The bonuses had only been paid the previous year and amounted to less than a third of the wage cuts for that year alone. [1]

Chapter 18 : The Arizona Power Lines

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

So now I’m a-sitting in prison,
A jump-suit and flip-flops I wear,
I’ll be out with good time by two-thousand and nine,
Hope there’ll still be some old growth back there,
And the man who looked just like Jesus,
He sure ain’t a sharing my cell,
‘Cause he was a spy for the FB of I,
And they busted Dave Foreman as well.

—Lyrics excerpted from, He Looked a Whole Lot Like Jesus by Darryl Cherney and Mike Roselle, 1990.

“I’m proud to be here fac­ing harassment by the FBI. I think I’m here because I’ve been effective in bringing attention to the crisis on this planet…my involvement will be curbed when I’m (lying) in the desert like Ed Abbey.” [1]

—Dave Foreman, June 1989.

Truth be told, by this time Earth First!ers had already been the victims of state repression. COINTELPRO, the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program, a creation of J. Edger Hoover, had been used since the 1950s to infiltrate and disrupt leftist organizations, often through the use of agent provocateurs, ostensibly to prevent a violent overthrow of the US Government. Most of the charges against such groups for any real crimes have either been found to be groundless, or, as in the case of the Black Panthers for example, many of the crimes were orchestrated by the undercover agents themselves in an attempt to discredit the organization. These efforts usually succeeded, and most of these dissident groups were undermined, rendered ineffective, or destroyed utterly. [2] The judgment of history has generally shown these organizations to be innocent of most of the charges against them, and even if they were considered a menace to society at the time, much of what they believed has eventually become mainstream thought, at least to some degree. [3] Yet, COINTELPRO continued after Hoover’s death well into the 1980s. [4]

Many Earth First!ers naïvely assumed they were immune, or at least highly resistant, to infiltration by provocateurs. This was due, they thought, to their lack of formal structure. Earth First! cofounder Mike Roselle likened them to the Yippies, which he’d been part of in his younger days, stating “You couldn’t infiltrate the Yip­pies. It was like infiltrating a marshmallow.” Judi Bari seemed to agree with this pronouncement, declaring, “There was nothing defined. It was a movement with a way of being and a feeling, and our extreme decentrali­zation makes it difficult for the FBI to even under­stand us, much less infiltrate us,” and, it wasn’t as if Earth First! didn’t take steps to minimize the danger. [5] As Greg King stated,

“We do have to get to­gether and plan our actions, and we do have to be clandestine. Often times we have to worry about the phones we use, and sometimes we have to worry about whether we have an infiltra­tor in the group. We don’t worry about it very much, but some­times you can, especially when you’re dealing with such powerful and insidious people as Charles Hurwitz of the Maxxam Group. [6]

Earth First! was soon about to find out that they had much to learn and plenty to worry about.

Chapter 17 : Logging to Infinity

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

Observing the frequent loading of logs on ships, during daily drives past Fields Landing several years ago, aroused in me a strong curiosity about the ex-porting of logs. At the same time as I was so frequently driving past this docking facility, the expansion of Redwood National Park, and its potential impact on the local lumber mills, was a very big news item and the controversy was evident everywhere in the community. Why, I asked, are these logs being exported, in their raw resource form, from an area where steady employment is already a problem and, if the dire forecasts about the (Redwood) Park expansion are to be believed, there will be a much greater problem in the future? As I raised this question with a wide variety of people over the ensuing months and years, I concluded that the average citizens of Humboldt County has very little understanding of the log exporting matter.

—Edie Butler, Hard Times, February 1983

Way up high in the redwood giants,
Darryl Cherney sits alone,
He is callin’ 60 Minutes,
From his treetop telephone.

—lyrics excerpted from Darryl Cherney’s on a Journey, by Mike Roselle and Claire Greensfelder

Earth First! and IWW made every effort to confront the real problems faced by the would-be “once-lers” on the North Coast. They began by organizing a “No Exports Flotilla” on Tuesday, May 23, 1989 at noon at the Fields Landing Dock two miles south of Eureka.[1] About four dozen demonstrators, some of them on boats and the rest on land assembled near the rally site, braving high winds and even some rain.[2] The boaters, including Darryl Cherney and Larry Evans, calling themselves the “Guerilla Flotilla”, struggled against a strong ebb tide while a coast guard patrol skiff hovered nearby ostensibly for the demonstrators’ safety. Meanwhile the demonstrators on land, including Judi Bari, marched until they met the flotilla where the latter finally landed. Demonstrators held a large orange banner which read, “Stop Exporting Our Future!” and another white banner which declared, “Log Exports = Closed Mills.”[3] Beach balls labeled “jobs”, “old growth”, and “the future” floated away illustrating the message.[4] The three network TV affiliates serving Humboldt Country covered the event and their coverage was relatively favorable.

There, Darryl Cherney declared, “Earth First!’s ban on log exports campaign is one manner in which we can show common ground with the timber workers. Whole log exports clearly harm both the ecology and economy of this region.”[5] Judi Bari added:

“A lot of people blame environmentalists for the mill closures, (but) we’re here to point out that one quarter of the whole logs that are cut (from the Pacific Northwest) are being shipped overseas to Japan. This is where a lot of the jobs are going, and not only are they depleting the forests, but they’re also depleting the mill workers’ livelihoods.”[6]

Larry Evans emphasized that log exports cost the Pacific Northwest as many as 15,000 jobs annually. He further argued, “While that’s happening, the environmental movement is getting a lot of flak for ‘taking jobs away’ through protecting habitat and ecosystems which is in fact something that we all depend on. So basically we feel that exporting these jobs is a profit, greedhead scam.”[7] John Boak accused the demonstrators of “showboating”, and “trying to take credit for the idea,” as if he had somehow thought of it himself. He and Candy could only sit and watch nearby fuming, because there was little in the message critical of log exports they could use to feed into the stereotype of “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.”[8] Neither WECARE nor TEAM had anything to say about raw log exports either, nor could they. These organizations took their marching orders from Corporate Timber, who favored exports.

Chapter 16 : I Like Spotted Owls…Fried

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

“Then…Oh! Baby! Oh!
How my business did grow!
Now, chopping one tree at a time was too slow.

“So I quickly invented my Super-Axe-Hacker,
which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker,
We were making Thneeds four times as fast as before,
And that Lorax?…He didn’t show up any more.”

—excerpt from The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, 1971

Bill Bailey had a problem. The longtime Laytonville resident owned a logging equipment shop and mail order catalog from there and made hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, butfor him that certainly wasn’t a problem. [1] It wasn’t a lack of connections that plagued him. His wife Judith Bailey was the sister of Becky Harwood, who was married to young Art Harwood, whose father ran a profitable, local sawmill in nearby Branscomb. [2] It wasn’t a lack of wealth. Bill Bailey claimed to be just another working stiff, but this description was betrayed by the fact that he owned expensive furniture and several luxury cars, including a $50,000 Jaguar and a $100,000 Morgan. [3] It wasn’t even a matter of political perspective. Bailey had presented himself as conservative, but had been successfully pegged as one of the financial backers of recently exposed neo-Nazi and Mendocino supervisorial candidate, Jack Azevedo. [4] Bailey took a lot of heat for backing him, but refused to back down, even after being exposed as supporting the reactionary would-be candidate in the local press, but Bailey didn’t even that as a problem. [5] No, indeed, Bill Bailey had a real problem. It seems that in April of 1989, Bailey’s eight-year-old son, Sam, had recently come home from school one day and told his father that, “when loggers fall trees they are taking away the little animals’ homes, and they can’t live.” [6] That, for Bill Bailey was a huge problem.

Chapter 15 : Hang Down Your Head John Campbell

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

You came from Australia, You married one of the Murphys,
They owned Pacific Lumber, And all of the redwood trees…
As soon as you hit the big time, You made good your life,
You didn’t need the Murphys, So you divorced your wife.

—lyrics excerpted from Hang Down Your Head John Campbell, by Darryl Cherney, 1990. [1]

While the G-P and L-P mill workers faced uncertain futures in Mendocino County, Charles Hurwitz was having his way in Humboldt County. Indeed, the first third of 1989 did not go well for the adversaries of Maxxam. For his services in helping facilitate the takeover and convincing the Texas raider to boost lumber production to help service the takeover debt, Hurwitz promoted John Campbell to the role of Pacific Lumber president, effective January 1, 1989, replacing the retiring William Leone. Campbell would remain in Scotia, thus making it the first time in almost 15 years that the P-L president would have his office in the capitol of its lumber operations. Executive vice president for sales and marketing at the company’s Mill Valley site and Hurwitz supporter Thomas B Malarkey was promoted to company vice chairman. Both Campbell and Malarkey were elected to the board of directors. The moves signified Hurwitz’s determination to retain his hold over Humboldt County. [2] It no doubt appealed to Hurwitz that under Campbell’s watch, P-L’s operating income had increased to approximately $54 million in 1988. [3] Hurwitz himself had made a hefty sum that year, earning over $3.95 million—up from $723,150 the year before—and the total didn’t even include an additional $668,345 he received when he terminated P-L’s bonus plan or the $309,375 worth of stock he received on top of everything else. [4]

Chapter 14 : Mother Jones at the Georgia Pacific Mill

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

“Greed is a noble motivator, when applied in the right context.”

—T Marshall Hahn, President, Georgia-Pacific, 1983-93

At least the workers at the Georgia-Pacific Mill in Fort Bragg had a union who would protect their jobs and working conditions—or so they thought.

The lumber mill that adorned the California coast in Fort Bragg was the largest employer in town, a town whose economy depended on timber. The mill employed more than 600 workers whose wages began at around $7 per hour and ranged up to $18 for long time veterans. Remote from any major highways or rail lines, and lacking a deep water port, the only other industries of any significance in that area were fishing and tourism (though the wine trade was just beginning to gain some pertinence as well).[1] The large mill had been owned by the Union Lumber Company until it was purchased by Boise-Cascade (B-C) in 1969, at which point, IWA Local 3-469 unionized the workers. B-C suffered financial difficulties and subsequently their California holdings were purchased by Georgia-Pacific (G-P) in 1973, in a hostile takeover. B-C filed a successful anti-trust suit against G-P, which had to spin off another company (which became Louisiana-Pacific) to comply with the terms.[2] G-P retained ownership of the Fort Bragg facility. Mendocino County environmentalists had tangled with Georgia-Pacific for many years—most notably over the expansion of the Sinkyone wilderness. Though not actually a company town like Scotia, Fort Bragg was essentially a company town in practice, and that would be proven for all to see. G-P Mill workers were still reeling from their concessionary contract in 1985 and from the loss of their union loggers in the woods—who had been replaced by Gyppo logging crews—when an incident happened on February 11, 1989 that would further expose what went on behind the Redwood Curtain.

Syndicate content