Scope and Content
Title: Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers Collection,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1940-1985
Collection number: HUMCO HD6515 L92 H95
Creator: Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workersand its constituent unions
Extent: 127.5 linear feet
Humboldt State University Library.
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Transferred to the Humboldt State University Library in 1989 by the California Northcoast
Labor/Community Archives Project.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Humboldt State University Library. To obtain
permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Special Collections Librarian.
Processing of the collection was funded by a grant from the National Historical
Preservation and Records Commission of the National Archives, January 1, 1990-June 30,
[Identification of item], Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers
Collection, Humboldt State University Library.
Scope and Content
The Redwood District of Lumber and Sawmill Workers Collection consists of the office
files of the Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers, an umbrella
organization of industrially organized plywood, sawmill and logging local unions in Del
Norte, Humboldt, and at one time, Lake, Mendocino and Trinity Counties. It was affiliated
with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. At least 70 different
locals were affiliated to the Council at different times in its history.
It also contains the complete office records of five constituent local unions which had
been stored at the Council building and five small and one substantial accessions of
personal papers and memorabilia.
The Redwood District Council, founded in October 1940, ceased to function in 1986. The
California Northcoast Labor/Community Archives Project was formed to save the records and
they were transferred to Humboldt State University in 1989. Dorothy Balke, widow of the
RDC's first president and leader of the 1946 Redwood Strike, Martin Balke, contributed
photographs and scrapbook. Raymond Nelson, U.B.of C.& J.of A. International
Representative attached to the RDC (1952-78) contributed several items of early RDC
material and personal memorabilia. Local historian and lumber worker Frank Onstine
contributed several files of material used to write a book on the 1935 lumber strike and
a projected book on the 1946 redwood strike. Noel Harris, long time Local 2931 leader,
and his wife, Ina, contributed three boxes of materials documenting their roles as
mainstays of the local labor and progressive communities. Patsy Givins contributed
several items rescued from the demolition of the Arcata Labor Temple, long owned by Local
2808. Albin Gruhn, President of the California Labor Federation, and for many years the
executive officer of the Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Central Labor Council, donated
(along with a substantial financial contribution) his Fourteenth District
Vice-Presidential Reports to the California State Federation of Labor Conventions
Much of the RDC office files were arranged without regard for original order before the
advent of the project archivist. These, together with the bits and pieces of local lumber
union pre-history collected by the RDC, several files of early materials collected by
Frank Onstine, and the one file of Albin Gruhn's reports have been segregated into the
RDC Manuscript Collection. The remainder of the RDC office files constitute the RDC
record group. The records of five affiliated UB of C and J of A lumber and sawmill
workers local unions were warehoused at the Council building. Each constitutes a discrete
body of records of an institution with its own historical integrity. Each has been
treated as an individual record group. Several of these record groups contain fragmentary
records of other local unions merged into the final local. One record group, that of
Local 2808, contains the records of five such mergers. Paper mergers of locals without
contracts, few members, and no integration of files have been ignored. The several files
of Ray Nelson memorabilia have been included as a sub-series of his office files.
Overall Collection Scope and Content
The collection extensively documents the mature phase and decline of lumber unionism in
Humboldt County California. The great bulk of the records fall within the years 1958-85.
There is a much more limited amount of material covering Del Norte and Mendocino Counties
and earlier periods. Several of the record groups contain minutes from 1940-42, and one
(Local 2592) contains sketchy correspondence files starting in 1946, including several
letters about the 1946-48 Redwood Strike.
The one box Historical Series of the RDC Manuscript Collection contains bits of earlier
Humboldt County lumber unionism, including the surprising addition of the 1917-1919
minutes of Eureka Local 12 of the International Union of Timber Workers. It also includes
most of the records pertaining to the 1930s, the World War II period, and the 1946-48
Overall collection highlights include a large number of industrial accident cases
documenting the dangers of logging and sawmill operations, the politics surrounding the
establishment and expansion of Redwood National Park and its aftermath and the 1983-85
final broken Louisiana-Pacific strike (Local 2592). There is also interesting shop
steward correspondence from Local 2808. The artwork of two Local 2931 members is also
represented, original cartoon drawings by Ellis Taylor and photographs by Ray Coon (RDC
Manuscripts Collection Artifacts Series and Photographs Series) are other highlights.
The RDC reports to the annual conventions of the California State Council of Lumber and
Sawmill workers and the Western Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers in the Periodical
Series of the RDC Manuscript Collection provide a short year to year overview of the
evolution of the RDC.
Albin Gruhn's 14th District Vice Presidential Reports to the California State Federation
of Labor Convention in the Historical Series provides a similar picture for the region's
unions as a whole from 1942-1958.
The RDC Quarterly Minutes Series of the RDC Manuscripts Collection is probably the
researchers best single source for a comprehensive overview of the RDC. Most include
short reports by each affiliated local of its doings for the prior three months.
The RDC Local Union Chart provides quick reference to basic data about most of the 70
local unions affiliated to the RDC at one time or another. The Merger Chart illustrates
several of the most complicated local union evolutions: 2808, 3006 and the 1930s RDC
RDC Overall Historical Sketch
The lumber industry of the California Northcoast began almost immediately after the
discovery of Humboldt Bay in 1849, and has remained the primary industry through the
present day. The gigantic size of the region's Redwoods required its lumber companies to
be world leaders in the development of mechanized mills and logging operations.
Lumber unionism also developed early in Humboldt County with arguably the first local
union of lumber workers, a Knights of Labor local assembly established in 1884. The first
national union of lumber workers, the International Brotherhood of Woodsmen and Sawmill
Workers was located in Eureka and chartered by the American Federation of Labor in 1906.
Both of these early attempts at lumber unionism, along with sporadic forays by the
Industrial Workers of the World, were quickly crushed by the fiercely anti-union lumber
barons despite the strong support of the dynamic local labor movement.
The first lumber union documented in the collection, Local 12 of the International Union
of Timber Workers, was a product of the local and nationwide labor resurgence of the
World War I period. It was crushed by the Hammond Lumber Company after a desperation
strike to defend the eight hour day in 1919.
The history of the local unions which eventually formed the RDC begins in 1933. Local
radicals affiliated with the leftist Trade Union Unity League began to build sketchy
union nuclei in local lumber operations and carried out a short lived loggers strike.
Galvanized by the successful coast wide maritime strike, lumber workers began to organize
rapidly in the Pacific Northwest and shortly afterward in more isolated Humboldt County.
The lumber workers first joined federal locals, which were directly affiliated with the
A.F.L., including Federal Local 19576 covering Humboldt County from Arcata to Rio Dell.
The A.F.L. gave jurisdiction over lumber workers to the U.B.of C. & J. of A. in early
1935. In May 1935, a large scale strike was called throughout the Pacific Northwest to
force a pay raise and union recognition. Considerable friction developed between the
U.B.of C.& J.of A. appointed strike leader Abe Muir and the local and regional lumber
worker leadership over tactics and what they considered a "sellout" settlement. The
strike was successful in firmly establishing lumber unionism in Oregon and Washington
despite strong industry opposition.
On the California Northcoast, the results were different. While organizing was proceeding
rapidly, the local union was not ready for a strike in May 1935. Local strike leader
Mickey Lima had estimated they had only approximately one-third of the Humboldt County
workers organized and had barely began to breach the forbidding territory of Pacific
Lumber's company town of Scotia and they had not begun at all in Del Norte and Mendocino
Counties. Foremen circulated company (anti-strike) loyalty petitions which even future
strike leader Everett St. Peters felt compelled to sign rather than risk his job. An
anti-union vigilante group, the Humboldt Nationals was formed. The local union leadership
opposed a strike under those conditions; but U.B.of C.& J.of A. leader Muir
distrusted them as radicals and convinced the local's membership to strike in support of
the Pacific Northwest.
The results were disastrous and permanently shaped lumber industry labor relations in the
redwood region. Less than half of the workers stayed out on strike on the first day. The
strike rapidly went downhill and collapsed after three strikers were shot and killed by
the Eureka police and vigilantes in the Holmes-Eureka massacre. The strike leaders were
rounded up and tried in the aftermath. The strikers were acquitted but an effective
blacklist drove active strikers from the industry and many from the region. St. Peters
opened a restaurant and Lima first worked for the WPA and then bought a fishing boat in
order to remain in Humboldt County. Interestingly, the Hobbs-Wall Co. in Crescent City
and mills in the Southern Oregon area of Coos Bay, which were not well organized in 1935
and did not strike, were soon organized in 1936 and 1937.
The anti-union redwood operators were given confidence by their easy victory, while
union-minded lumber workers were intimidated by defeat and the pervasive blacklist.
Meanwhile U.B.of C.& J. of A. organizers pulled the charters of Local 2563 after
failing to purge its radical leadership in an election soon after the strike. The new
local remained radical and industrial union-minded and soon joined the Federation of
Woodworkers, the nucleus of the new International Woodworkers of America, CIO. U.B.of
C.& J.of A. organizer Don Cameron was not taken unawares when Local 2677 seceded to
join the CIO. He immediately issued a new charter for workers of the California Barrel
Company. In response to employer fears of the supposedly radical CIO, Cameron was
apparently given a free hand to organize by the heretofore violently anti-union
Cal-Barrel management. The plant was soon organized and under contract to Lumber and
Sawmill Workers Local 2808 (the oldest union local represented in this collection with a
significant body of records).
A second local, 2868 (not represented beyond a few fragments in the collection), soon
signed a contract with the liberal-minded owners of the Arrow Mills. There were to be no
other LSW contracts in the redwood region for five years.
The major redwood operators resisted organization vigorously and effectively. When the
CIO Woodworkers organized Hobbs-Wall, the company shut down its mills --the mainstay of
the Del Norte economy --with devastating results to the residents. The young and vigorous
labor movement of Del Norte County, both AFL and CIO, virtually ceased to exist for a
number of years. The other redwood operators were rumored to have subsidized Hobbs-Wall
in this move. The operators next stopped shipping lumber from the ports of Fort Bragg and
Crescent City and drastically curtailed their shipments from Eureka when they realized
that the CIO intended to use their strong longshore worker base in these ports to
organize the woods. These moves, together with strife between the left wing Eureka local
and the right wing regional organizer, effectively drove the IWA out of the redwood
region from 1941 to 1952. The active CIO presence was reduced to the Eureka longshore
local and and the fishermen.
Meanwhile the AFL labor movement in Humboldt County, thriving under the able leadership
of Albin Gruhn, secretary of the Labor Council, and business agent for the Retail Clerks,
Butchers' Union and several other small locals, had a keen interest in organizing the
basic industry of the county --lumber. The Council threw its full weight including its
excellent weekly labor paper, the Redwood Empire Labor Journal, into aiding the U.B.of
C.& J.of A. in organizing the redwoods.
The first step was to form the RDC in October 1940 to coordinate the campaign. The first
target was the Hammond Lumber Company, close to Labor's Eureka stronghold. Local 2592
(one of the collection's record groups) had been established in May 1941 as the Hammond
mill local. After several months of hard organizing, the RDC petitioned for an election
and one was set for July. The CIO Woodworkers pulled out of the election on the day
before the vote, disrupting the RDC's campaign. The election was reset for August and the
RDC lost, 547 votes to 417.
The RDC regrouped immediately, opening an office in downtown Eureka within days of the
defeat. U.B.of C.& J.of A. President, William Hutcheson, was induced to visit the
redwood region and four new organizers were hired. By early spring, 1942, organizing was
progressing rapidly in woods and mills from Arcata to Rio Dell. An office was set up in
Rio Dell adjacent to the forbidding company town of Scotia, citadel of the intensely
anti-union Pacific Lumber Company. Organizing further quickened with 2592's election
victory at Hammond, on April 17, 1942, and by fall there were nine locals affiliated to
The redwood operators, still confident from their 1935 victory, were unwilling to accept
lumber unionism. 2592 was forced to strike Hammond on July 6, 1942 over the company's
refusal to sign an agreement. The employee's new union loyalties were proven by the near
total effectiveness of the picket lines.
The war both aided and complicated the RDC's organizing drive. Shipbuilding had begun on
Humboldt Bay by late 1942, bringing new prosperity and a tight labor market. At the same
time, it brought high turnover and new immigrants from rural Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas
with little or no experience of unionism. They, at least, did not have the 1935 strike
experience to inhibit them. The war also brought women to the lumber industry. They
worked for the Cal-Barrel Company before the war, and many came to work at Hammond during
the war. By 1943, the Financial Secretary and Business Agent of 2592 was a woman. Equal
pay for women was a key RDC war-time issue. Most of all, the War brought the no-strike
pledge and the War Labor Board (WLB). There is no record of further war-time lumber
strikes in the redwoods and the companies took full advantage of this. WLB pay increase
cases ground on slowly over a period of years. In the end, redwood region lumber pay
rates were left lower than the other lumber areas of California. This was to build up
powerful resentments for the future.
Meanwhile organizing went on apace. During 1943 six more new locals were established in
Humboldt County with Pacific Lumber Company the only large operator without a certified
RDC bargaining agent. There was also a breakthrough in what one observer had described as
"notoriously anti-union" Mendocino County, with a charter being issued to Ft. Bragg Local
2610, covering the Union Lumber Company.
In 1944 the Mendocino breakthrough was complete. There were now six locals, four of them
certified bargaining agents. All won by substantial margins. Local 2610 had signed "one
of the first union contracts in Mendocino history." Organizing also went forward in Del
Norte County with the chartering of 2505 Klamath and the forward momentum was capped by
the establishment of a Redwood Master Agreement.
But 1944 also saw the momentum building toward a post war strike, when the no strike
pledge would end. The RDC declared its top post-war priority would be the union shop and
considerable anger was expressed when the unfavorable WLB decision was announced. The RDC
leadership considered it a denigration of their hard fought organizing achievements and
considered a war time strike. The employers organized the Redwood Industrial Relations
Committee and reaffirmed their opposition to the union shop as first articulated at the
time of the IBWSW strike in 1907. They remained confident that their complete dominance
of economic life behind "the Redwood Curtain" would continue after the war. This
confidence was bolstered by huge cash reserves generated by high war time profits.
Contract negotiations broke down in April 1945 followed by an 85% strike vote in
November. 4,000 RDC members walked out of the nine major redwood producers on January 14,
1946 into what was to become the longest, most costly strike of the entire national
post-war strike wave. The companies soon agreed to a substantial pay raise which would
have nearly equaled the other organized regions but remained adamant on the union shop
issue. They reopened utilizing strike breakers recruited from returning veterans and laid
off shipyard workers and the unions responded with mass picketing. The U.B.of C.&
J.of A. retaliated with a nationwide "hot-cargo" boycott of redwood by union carpenters
hammering a new "AFL 8" union label (in the collection there are samples of these
hammer-like devices that were used to mark the lumber) into "fair" lumber from the region
and there was plenty of new lumber to hammer. The redwood companies lost their monopoly
on the region's lumber industry at this time. Capitalizing on the post war housing boom
and fir stumpage prices of only 1/3 of those in Oregon and Washington new small lumber
companies mushroomed into existence, turning the Arcata area almost overnight into one of
the nation's premier lumber centers. The number of lumber firms zoomed from nine in 1944
to two hundred in 1946. These new companies quickly absorbed the redwood strikers and the
RDC followed them and signed agreements with their new employers. The number of RDC
locals grew to thirty seven by 1948.
Under these conditions, the Hammond Company capitulated and signed a union shop agreement
requiring all new employees to join 2592, but pre-strike non-unionists were allowed to
remain non-union. The other redwood firms successfully rode out the strike to the bitter
end. The testimony of Fentriss Hill of the Northern Redwood Company was featured
prominently in the hearings on the Taft-Hartley Bill of 1947, which led to major
revisions in U.S. Labor law which restricted union activities. Uncertainty on the
legality of the redwood boycott in the aftermath of the bill's passage was the official
reason for the end of the strike in 1948 after 27 months.
The strike was costly for both sides. The redwood companies lost both huge housing boom
profits and their firm grip on the region's economy. The U.B.of C.& J.of A. spent $2
million on the strike, and its RDC membership was now for the most part centered in the
less secure employment of smaller firms. They suffered high unemployment in 1949 when
many of these firms did not survive the first sharp post-war housing downturn. A
determined RDC attempt to reorganize the struck firms was stopped cold by recession
unemployment and the cost of fending off raids by the Operating Engineers on their
membership and jurisdiction. Retrenchment became necessary and organizers were laid off.
The RDC was spared more serious problems by the rapid expansion of the Pacific Northwest
plywood industry into the region. This was the most highly profitable and unionized
sector of the industry and quickly became the stable heart of the RDC. The Mad River
Plywood plant of Humboldt Plywood Company opened in 1947 as the first plywood plant in
California and was almost immediately organized into Local 2789. The Malarky and Malarky
(M & M) Plywood Company opened its Eureka Plywood plant in 1948 and Local 2931 came
The Korean War period caused a new lumber boom with a new wave of plant openings with the
center of the industry shifting from Washington and the Columbia River Basin region of
Oregon to Southern Oregon (an IWA stronghold) and far Northern California, both coastal
and the Redding area. The IWA-CIO reentered the RDC region in 1951 and by 1953 had a
contract with the long established Northern Redwood Company at Korbel. The U.B.of C.&
J.of A. responded to this plant expansion and new competition by placing control of the
RDC and the newly merged Klamath Basin and Northern California (Redding area) district
councils under the control of International Representative Clarence Briggs. This move was
facilitated by a RDC financial crisis triggered by another sharp drop in the lumber
market in early 1952. The RDC territory was reduced by the transfer of Trinity and
Mendocino Counties into the jurisdiction of other district councils and a staff of four
international representatives were assigned to organizing into the remaining Humboldt and
Del Norte counties. Considerable organizing progress was made especially in Del Norte and
the RDC gained membership despite its loss of territory. The abandoned Mendocino County
A second aspect of the RDC reorganization was the encouragement of small single operation
locals to merge and form locals large enough to hire a full time business agent. The
small Arcata area sawmill locals merged into Local 2799. Local 3006 Hammond Loggers first
absorbed the other RDC logger locals and then became a conglomerate local of
These changes were in full swing in 1954 when the RDC entered its biggest strike since
1946. The men had not received a raise since 1951 and were unhappy but the industry was
in the doldrums and the company strongly resisted any increase. This strike included the
Northwest and marked the first cooperation between the LSW U.B.of C.& J.of A. and the
The strike was bitter, protracted and notably less successful in the RDC and Redding
areas of far Northern California. The new Del Norte locals were roughly handled. In
Arcata, the membership of Local 2697, whose membership consisted solely of the workers at
the Twin Parks Lumber Company, voted (see RDC RG Strike Files) to walk through the RDC
picket lines in mass to return to work. Post-strike efforts to stabilize the situation in
northern Del Norte County by merging the small locals into Local 598 were only partially
successful with several decertification votes. 1954 marked the high point and retreat for
the RDC in Del Norte county.
The strike, along with continued economic pressure on the small sawmills, destabilized
even the merged local 2799. Local 2808 with its excellent finances, its own building
--the Arcata Labor Temple --and its long established base at Cal-Barrel was chosen as the
new super local to service not only Arcata but such far-flung areas as Hoopa, Orleans,
and Salyer. It was to perform this function with distinction in marked contrast to the
problems which occurred in conglomerate local 3006.
Local 2808 was immediately put to the test in the year of the takeover --1956.
Roddiscraft, a company new to the area, bought out the Humboldt Plywood Corp. with its
Mad River Plywood, a linked sawmill in Maple Creek and the Cal-Barrel Company. Cal-Barrel
was bought solely for its large timber holdings and the obsolescent barrel factory.
Arcata's largest employer was immediately closed, throwing over 800 out of work.
Roddiscraft then began building a state of the art flakeboard plant --the RDC region's
This takeover was immediately followed in quick order by the Simpson Company's buyout of
M & M Plywood and the Georgia-Pacific Company's buyout of Hammond.
These events rocked the RDC to its very foundations. It lost 25% of its membership in the
Cal-Barrel closure and the RDC region became overnight an integral part of the Pacific
Northwest lumber industry. This had its compensation, labor relations in the Pacific
Northwest were well established with the larger companies accepting unions as part of
doing business --unlike the entrenched antagonism of the old-line redwood firms. There is
evidence of confusion and low morale in the RDC ranks but relations with new companies
settled in remarkably quickly despite a sharp economic downturn in 1957-58.
Regional collective bargaining had evolved by fits and starts, with the first Redwood
Master Agreement negotiated in 1944. The California State Council of Lumber and Sawmill
Workers was founded in 1948 as a direct outgrowth of the Redwood Strike with the stated
objective of coordinating negotiations on a state basis. Meanwhile in Oregon and
Washington, the Northwest Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers was becoming a full
industrial union within the body of the craft U.B.of C.& J.of A. There was
considerable dissatisfaction about the lack of coordination between the CSCLSW, the
Northwest Council and their constituent district councils and local unions during the
1954 negotiations and strike. Al Draut, RDC Executive Secretary, lost his position for a
perceived failure to keep the locals informed about higher level negotiations.
There were local variations. The Northern California Lumber Operators Association was
established in 1951 to represent the small operators in both the Coastal and Redding
areas. It reflected the attitudes and slim profit margins of its clients. It chose
union-busting tactics when it could and engaged in collective bargaining when it had to.
The region's Carpenters locals tried to interest the RDC locals in a different union
model then the expanded industrial unionism offered by the Northwest Council. They wanted
to merge the Carpenters and Millmen's District Council with the RDC, offering better area
coverage and a base to organize Mendocino and Sonoma County and especially the smaller
companies. The RDC locals were not interested. The LSW members in the Los Angeles area
were in such a mixed District Council and it is interesting to note that the only
non-carpenter to head the U.B.of C.& J.of A. came from that district council.
The RDC locals' integration into the renamed Western Council/LSW proceeded during 1956
and 1957 with such innovations as the new Western Council Defense (i.e. Strike) Fund and
a new emphasis on gaining fringe benefits --pensions and company paid health and welfare
which had been neglected, even denigrated, in earlier negotiations. These changes did not
go entirely smoothly. Some old-line local leaders were not happy about the loss of local
autonomy inherent in this shift to the Western Council. The largest Locals 2592 and 3006
attempted to secede from the RDC and join the Carpenters District Council. The U.B.of
C.& J.of A. would not allow this, but it resulted in the replacement of RDC Executive
Secretary Claude Heinig (1954-60) with Eddie Carroll (1960-62).
Eddie Carroll emphasized organizing during his tenure. The U.B.of C.& J.of A.
organizing effort in the RDC area had slackened noticeably during the 1950s. The four
International Representatives of 1952 had been reduced to one by 1957 and much of his
efforts was wasted in fending off IWA raids --or counter raiding. Disaffected
conglomerate Local 3006 lost its large Arcata Simpson mill to the IWA in 1961 and it was
felt necessary to spin off its new G-P Samoa Plywood plant unit to form Local 3019 to
prevent its loss as well. Meanwhile the RDC had receded from northern Del Norte County.
Crescent City "hub" Local 598 contained by the results of the 1954 strike, was hit by a
wave of plant closings in 1959-60 and eliminated by a bitter eight month strike in 1961.
Eddie Carroll believed that the key to solving the RDC locals' problems was organizing
and that this organizing was the key function of the RDC. Joe Clark was hired by Carroll
specifically to organize. The Council won six of twelve organizing elections in 1961 and
reached a membership of 4,100 despite the losses at Simpson Arcata and in Del Norte
County. But Carroll signed a contract without a union shop clause rather than lose the
newly organized Weyerhaeuser loggers Local 3027. The union shop had been almost sacred to
the RDC locals since the 1946 strike and local 2789 felt its own struggle to maintain a
union shop agreement with Weyerhaeuser had been compromised. Carroll was forced to resign
in February 1962 and replaced by Leonard Cahill. Cahill emphasized service to the
existing locals and replaced organizer Clark with Claude Heinig as assistant business
agent to handle the paperwork. Organizing was once again left to Ray Nelson, the
International Representative and tapered off significantly.
The period 1958-64 was a period of significant technological change and increased
productivity in the lumber industry leading to membership loss for the RDC locals. But,
overall, the highly organized plywood sector of the industry continued to expand. When
industry giant Weyerhaeuser bought out Roddiscraft, it gave 2789 and the RDC problems but
it accepted unions as part of the industry. The RDC was by this time fully integrated
into the mature industry-wide collective bargaining system that prevailed with the big
operators in the Pacific Northwest. There were strikes attendant upon the "Big 6"
Negotiations of 1963 and local issue negotiations held in tandem with the industry-wide
negotiations sometimes led to single plant strikes. But in general, there was industrial
peace and lumber workers earned wages only slightly below their compatriots in auto and
By 1975 times began to change. New plywood plants were opening in the South and old
growth was becoming more scarce on the Pacific Coast. The end of the Nixon mandated wage
and price freezes led to a cost-of-living explosion and strong membership pressure for a
substantial wage increase despite the fact that the industry was operating at only 70% of
capacity. The Western Council successfully demanded a very sizeable raise from the
industry, which put severe pressure on the small operators. The Rochlin companies had an
almost 25 year history of negotiating with RDC locals. They closed their Arcata and
Orleans operations under contract to 2808 and forced a union busting strike before
closing and selling their Fortuna operations.
The expansion of the Redwood National Park accelerated the shortage of old growth logs,
which combined with cheap Southern plywood and plywood substitutes such as waferboard,
brought a swift series of plant closures and an end to the plywood industry along with
the core locals of the RDC.
By 1979 the RDC could no longer afford a paid officer and Harry Merlo's adoption of a
wage cutting Southern strategy forced a final bitter strike at Louisiana-Pacific's
remaining operations ended the RDC's effective life by 1984. It also fundamentally
altered the nature of collective bargaining in the West Coast lumber industry.
Building California: The Story of the Carpenters' Union.
Los Angeles: Center for Labor Research and Education, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Los Angeles,
Redwood Lumber Industry.
San Marion, CA: Golden West Books, 1982.
Workers and Dissent in the Redwood Empire.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987.
Glock, Margaret S.
Collective Bargaining in the Pacific Northwest Lumber Industry.
Berkeley: Institute of Industrial Relations, 1955.
Lumber and Labor.
NY: Farrar and Rinehart, 1945.
Lembcke, Jerry & William Tattam.
One Union in Wood.
NY: International Publishers, 1984.
Melendy, Howard B.
One Hundred Years of the Redwood Lumber Industry, 1850-1950.
Palo Alto: Stanford University, 1952(Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation).
Papers and Studies
Bradley, Anita H.
"Labor Relations in the California Lumber Industry."
San Francisco: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 1945.
"Lumber, Labor and Community in the Progressive Era in Humboldt County California, 1900-1920."
Paper submitted to the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch meeting, August 11-14, 1982, University of San
Francisco, California. Copy in the Humboldt Room, Humboldt State University Library.
Dana, John L.
"Bargaining in the Western Lumber Industry,"
Monthly Labor Review,
August 1965, pp. 925-931.
Duke, John & Clyde Haffstutler.
"Productivity in Sawmills Increases as Labor Input Declines Substantially,"
Monthly Labor Review,
April 1977, pp. 33-37.
Kleinsorge, Paul L.
"The Lumber Industry,"
Monthly Labor Review,
May 1959, pp. 558-563.
Sugg, Matilda R.
"Labor Situation in Western Logging Camps and Sawmills,"
Monthly Labor Review,
Title: Records of the California State Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers, 1947-.
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Inventory by Richard C. Davis, 1976.
Title: Records of the International Woodworkers of America, 1936-1987.
557 linear feet. Special Collections, University of Oregon Library, Eugene, OR. Inventory by Michael Ridderbusch, 1989.