Bringing Environmentalists and Labor Together
Stop those annoying scabs before they start!
Last year the total earnings for MAXXAM, the company ravaging Headwaters Forest, was a half billion dollars. This year the federal and California state govts agreed on a scam deal to buy patches of Headwaters Forest from MAXXAM’s Pacific Lumber Co., putting another half billion in MAXXAM’s coffers.
On Sept. 30, 3,000 USAW-unionized Kaiser Aluminum workers at five plants went on strike against Kaiser Alum, another company owned by MAXXAM (63% ownership), and the primary generator of MAXXAM’s overall profits. MAXXAM is trying to bust the union and suck the lifeblood out of the company. That is CEO Charles Hurwitz’s MO. The only nonunionized plant in Washington barely pays workers half of what the unionized workers make. Benefits are accordingly minimal as well.
Kaiser stockholders have been complaining for over a year about why Kaiser’s stock is “just getting slaughtered even when Aluminum as a whole is OK and why MXM is doing so well.” According to David Foster, chairman of the USWA Kaiser bargaining team, “Our members sacrificed for 15 years to restore Kaiser’s profitability after leveraged buyouts and other corporate misadventures saddled the company with a billion dollars of debt. In the wake of a ‘best ever’ performance that earned over $168 million last year, it’s not unreasonable to ask the company to honor its word and restore the cuts our membership accepted to put the company back on its feet.”
Throughout the strike MAXXAM has been sending Pacific Lumber workers up to Washington to work in the Kaiser plants. Last week, Pacific Lumber lost its 1998 timber operator’s license because of its relentless pattern of criminal logging operations. The same day, it laid off 180 loggers. All of these loggers are now being offered “opportunities” at other Maxxam-owned facilities (Kaiser) according to PALCO. So now the criminal logging practices that cost these 180 loggers their jobs are being used to turn them into scabs or face impoverishment. PALCO can keep up its logging by just hiring independent contract (Gypo) loggers.
SO MAXXAM rapes the land here in Northern California, puts its loggers out of work, and increases its bloody scab pool so it gains a stronger hand in its efforts to bust the union! It was soon after MAXXAM took over Pacific Lumber that they liquidated the timber worker’s pension fund and tripled the rate of logging in the Redwoods to *buy out KAISER*! This is outrageous!
And you can help us fight back. A new coalition of northern California Earth First!ers is working day-to-day with the Kaiser workers. For the last several weeks one courageous EF! activist has been working in a Kaiser plant undercover for the union, working in gruelling, life-risking situations. This team now has a plan of action. And we’re asking for your help right now, and in the coming weeks. Here’s what you can do:
• Join the dial-a-than to jam the scab hiring efforts (see below).
• Can you spare a couple of weeks to head up to Tacoma, Washington? Get yourself hired undercover for the union. The union is looking for 20 or so activists to do this. They have a plan of action you can find out about if you can make the sacrifice and help the workers (and Headwaters Forest). Contact Rob Lalicker, media person for the Tacoma workers for info. (253/875-0202 of lick [at] aa [dot] net)
• The union is looking for contacts related to bauxite mining and alumina processing in Australia and Puerto Rico. If you know any activists fighting bauxite strip-mining or workers in either of these two countries, please contact Rob Lalicker, or drop us a line here at the EF! Media Center (efmc [at] asis [dot] com)
• Become a naval blockader and help block an ore ship arriving in the Puget Sound the first week of December. This is where EF!ers, Sea Shepherds, RAN and Greenpeace activists can put their skills to work. This is where we can make this a national scandal and reinvigorate the focus on the govt making deals with corporate criminals like Charles Hurwitz. Call Mike at 707/923-5063 or Rob or send us an e-mail if you really want to help make this happen RIGHT NOW!
• Send contributions to the Union strike fund (what’s the info on that?)
• Send a contribution to support Earth First!’s union solidarity effort. Checks or m.o. payable to Earth First! and sent to P.O. Box 324, Redway, CA 95560
Thanks for reading this far. The rest of this letter is details about the dial-a-than. This is a really fundamental effort. Please make some phone calls and get your friends and colleagues to do the same. We’re warmed up now and ready to rock! Hope you are too! This is the first real opportunity for environmentalists to work concertedly together to clobber a corporation, to fight for the Earth and to fight for unions and for social justice in a strategic, pragmatic manner. There’s no time to lose.
Andy Caffrey & Mike Jakubal
Earth First! Media Center
PS If you want to learn more about Hurwitz and MAXXAM, check out the Jail Hurwitz web site http://www.jailhurwitz.com.
The following is the number prospective Kaiser Aluminum scabs call to get information and interviews: CWI (509) 323-7118. Every time a Union supporter calls, a scab can’t call. Get the picture? If 250 people called for 2 minutes each day, that would be over 8 hours of phone time tied up!
It is not illegal to call and ask lots and lots and lots of stupid questions about jobs at Kaiser, directions to the office, questions about wages, etc. It is illegal to make harassing or threatening calls and this is not recommended. If they change numbers or formats (which makes it even more difficult for scabs to get through), check the daily newspaper ads or call the Union office or check the USWA Web page choicenet1.com/steelworkers/ for updated numbers.
Copy and pass this out to everyone you know! Try this for one week, from November 13 to November 20. If it works, it can be continued or expanded.
How To Stage A Successful Phone-In
This is like a sit-in by phone. The idea is to so overload the opponent’s communication that it becomes non-operational. In this case, the target is the scab hiring process. If you’re tying up the hiring company’s phone lines, then no prospective scabs can get through for interviews. To make this work requires several things: 1) specific targets; 2) timeline; 3) widespread participation; 4) keep it legal; 5) evaluation and adaptation.
1) Specific Targets. Listing all possible Kaiser numbers would spread efforts too thin. Focus on the numbers for the hiring process alone. Check local papers where Kaiser, IMAC, CWI (or whoever it is in your area) advertises for scabs to get those phone numbers.
Sending a spy through the hiring process may reveal other non-advertised numbers such as cell phone or fax numbers that they give out so prospective scabs can do follow-up calls. If the hiring company is using a call-forwarding service, jamming this number will force the service to drop Kaiser’s business. Every time Kaiser has to change numbers, it makes it more costly for Kaiser and more difficult for scabs to get in.
2) Timeline. A phone-in, like most actions, needs a specific beginning and ending date. In this case, a week would be a good length of time to start with. If the dates on which people are requested to call-in are too vague, participation will likely not be as strong or consistent.
3) Widespread Participation. Get the information and instructions out to every possible supporter. The beauty of this type of action is that it can be done by anyone with access to a phone. Spread the plans and numbers to every other Union, your relatives and friends, other groups who have expressed a willingness to help, and even people walking by on the street. It is much better to have three hundred people make one call than a few people hitting their “re-dial” buttons all day long.
4) Keep it legal. Consult a lawyer about this to make sure you’re within the law or at least conscious of the legalities and consequences if you choose to break the law. Threatening calls are illegal. Polite calls inquiring about employment opportunities, directions to the office, working conditions, pay rates, and on and on and on….are perfectly legal. In fact, if they never suspect that all the calls are phony, they will wonder why no one’s showing up to the interviews.
5) Evaluation and Follow up. If the action is successful, you’ll know because even you won’t be able to get through! If participation is not high enough to do a complete tie-up, more publicity about the phone-in may have to be done. Someone will have to take on the job of monitoring the company to see if they change their number. A central location where new numbers can be posted should be set up (Union office, Web page, etc.).
If they change to a system of faxed-in resumes, then tie up their fax machines. If they have walk-in interviews, have everyone you know walk in and sign up for interviews, tests, and so on. Every fake scab that they interview is taking the place of a real scab that they can’t interview. No matter what they do, there is a legal, easy way to overload the process, making hiring of scabs an even more difficult and costly process.