This was to build up powerful resentments for the future. Meanwhile organizing went on apace. During 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 , covering the Union Lumber Company. In the Mendocino breakthrough was complete. There were now six locals, four of them certified bargaining agents.
All won by substantial margins. Local had signed "one of the first union contracts in Mendocino history. But 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 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.
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. The redwood companies lost their monopoly on the region's lumber industry at this time. The number of lumber firms zoomed from nine in to two hundred in 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 Under these conditions, the Hammond Company capitulated and signed a union shop agreement requiring all new employees to join , 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 , which led to major revisions in U.
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 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.
They suffered high unemployment in 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.
Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers - Finding Aid
The Mad River Plywood plant of Humboldt Plywood Company opened in as the first plywood plant in California and was almost immediately organized into Local 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.
This move was facilitated by a RDC financial crisis triggered by another sharp drop in the lumber market in early 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 remained unorganized. 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 Local Hammond Loggers first absorbed the other RDC logger locals and then became a conglomerate local of heterogeneous parts.
These changes were in full swing in when the RDC entered its biggest strike since The men had not received a raise since and were unhappy but the industry was in the doldrums and the company strongly resisted any increase. 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. Post-strike efforts to stabilize the situation in northern Del Norte County by merging the small locals into Local were only partially successful with several decertification votes. The strike, along with continued economic pressure on the small sawmills, destabilized even the merged local Local 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 Local was immediately put to the test in the year of the takeover Roddiscraft, a company new to the area, bought out the Humboldt Plywood Corp. Cal-Barrel was bought solely for its large timber holdings and the obsolescent barrel factory. Arcata's largest employer was immediately closed, throwing over out of work.
Roddiscraft then began building a state of the art flakeboard plant --the RDC region's first. These events rocked the RDC to its very foundations. 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 Regional collective bargaining had evolved by fits and starts, with the first Redwood Master Agreement negotiated in The California State Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers was founded in 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. 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 negotiations and strike.
Al Draut, RDC Executive Secretary, lost his position for a perceived failure to keep the locals informed about higher level negotiations.
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There were local variations. The Northern California Lumber Operators Association was established in 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.
Humboldt County Human Resources
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. 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. Eddie Carroll emphasized organizing during his tenure. The four International Representatives of had been reduced to one by and much of his efforts was wasted in fending off IWA raids --or counter raiding. Disaffected conglomerate Local lost its large Arcata Simpson mill to the IWA in and it was felt necessary to spin off its new G-P Samoa Plywood plant unit to form Local to prevent its loss as well. Crescent City "hub" Local contained by the results of the strike, was hit by a wave of plant closings in and eliminated by a bitter eight month strike in 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 and reached a membership of 4, 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 The union shop had been almost sacred to the RDC locals since the strike and local felt its own struggle to maintain a union shop agreement with Weyerhaeuser had been compromised.
Carroll was forced to resign in February 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 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 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 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 steel.
By times began to change. New plywood plants were opening in the South and old growth was becoming more scarce on the Pacific Coast. 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 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.