News Story: The North Coast Journal's Heidi Walters wrote a great human interest story called, "Without the Mill." Touched on how this lay-off is affecting real working class people. Our mill is very close-knit. I know it sounds corny, but we are a big family at Evergreen. You have to remember, you can't choose family, they are just there.
Lawyer Stuff: Our local union feels that Evergreen was in clear violation of the The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and we had our lawyers draft up a letter to Evergreen concerning pending legal action. Our lawyers (Only Lawyers get to make money on this) received a reply out of the offices of Jeffrey Herm ESQ of Denver Colorado. He makes the claim that Evergreen was involved in a financial "perfect storm" that Evergreen had no control of. He adds that "High Pulp inventories and the collapse in the Pulp market has dropped pulp prices from $700 a ton in early 2008 to $540 a ton recently. Evergreen's business circumstance made it impossible to acquire new capital." So they refuse to abide by Federal law and the payout of $882,000 to workers at the plant who are now leaning on local Social Services and burdening our local tax system. Frustrating.
We (Our Local) have also filed a grievance concerning our severance pay if they do permanently close the plant. According to our labor agreement they would owe around $1.5 to the workers. (4o hours of pay for each year of service, capping at 800 hours paid max. Mind you, that is nearly $16,800 for many at the mill.)
I thought it was strange that Evergreen has retained local Attorneys to fight a lawsuit by California Redwood Co. vs. Evergreen Pulp. W. Timothy Needham has been working on behalf of Evergreen. (Tim grew up in Humboldt County and lived in Fairhaven right down the road from the mill!) California Redwood Company has retained the law offices of California Insurance Defense Attorneys based in Eureka. (More Lawyers making money at nothing but filing paperwork. If Evergreen would quit hiring lawyers and just pay people this might not be happening.) Anyways, California Redwood Lawyers claim that Evergreen owes 15 million to California creditors and that Lee Kwok (A subsidiary of Lee and Man) owes Evergreen 20 million dollars that was sent to Lee and Man.
So the point is, if you are a Lawyer, you are working. If you are a pulp mill employee of Evergreen you are not. So use your re-training program to become a Lawyer. (My late dad, Army Major James Marks was a local Lawyer years back and encouraged me to, "Go into either Law or the Priesthood. That's where the money is!" In hindsight I should have studied labor law.)
"No Water for You!": After our huge union meeting Wednesday, I went to the Samoa Peninsula Fire District meeting of which I am a director, and learned that the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District General Manager Carol Rische had met with our Director Noreen O'Brien and Fire Chief Kevin Pope concerning implications of water being shut off to Evergeen Pulp! I was like, "Whoa Nellie!" If Evergeen does not pay its water bill in a timely fashion, the water is cut off in mid December. That means no water for DG Fairhaven, the pulp mill and the town of Samoa's Fire Suppression System. That will likely mean the closure of Peninsula Union School District, The Historic Samoa Cookhouse and most likely, Inside Sports. Unless someone pays off a Fire Marshall.
I went to the water district meeting today and talked with GM Rische and she recognized me from going to the water board meetings when this subject came up on pulp mill closure in 2005. (That's where I met Director Kaitlin Sopoci Belknap.) Carol gave me a written "plan" for the scenarios if the mill does not continue to pay the water bill. So let us hope this bill is paid in full soon!
Division 3 Director Barbara Hecathorn had earlier in the meeting mentioned my blog for information on Evergreen to the board and public!
Just for the record, Evergreen pulp pays 1.8 million dollars a year for water used. If that was dispersed to users in the district, it would come out to about a $2 rate hike a month. Not cataclysmic to the public.
Union Officers for AWPPW Local 49 2009:
As most of my fellow workers know, I made a decision a few months ago to not seek union office this year. (Long before this fiasco at the mill.) I have served as shop steward, union organizer, Vice President, President over the years. It has been an honor to serve my term as President and I achieved most of my goals; Shop Steward Training, Financial Leadership Training, Union Hall office organization, Union Meeting Quorum Improvement, Union Member participation and just overall transparent leadership. Whatever Information I have, it has been the memberships also. I hope to retain and continue my position as appointed Lobbyist for the AWPPW California Council.
Why am I stepping aside? I will be busy this next summer continuing my quest for higher public office locally. I will be forming a committee and doing all the nuts and bolts politically that I did not have time for in my last run. So, I would have not been able to effectively serve the local 49 members. I would have done a dis-service to them, or my future campaign. I will continue to serve on the boards for the Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, Samoa Peninsula Fire District, Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee and continue my Samoa Athletics small business.
And beside all that, Local 49 was blessed with many well qualified leaders who are willing to step forward. And they are:
President- Tom Reilly
Vice President- Nathan Zink
Recording Secretary- Jessie Arias
Financial Secretary- David Corral
Treasurer- Shawn Irvine
Guards- Mike Griffith
Trustee- Glen Vickers
Central Safety Committee- Jerry Brown
Maintenance and Yard- David Dees
Machine Room and Shipping- Carl Mengel
Pulp Group, Chip Dump and Recaust- Rob Shepherd
Recovery- Doug Gingerich
Delegates- Doug Gingerich
This is last union election that I have had the privilege to organize. I want to thank the unpaid Organizers/Trustees from local 49 that have conducted this election with utmost iintegrity and professionalism: Mark Young, Ed Weatherbee and Mike Griffith. Considering the large turnout and the extra time to apply true democratic principles to this election. I am grateful for their volunteer work.
May we all go back to our jobs in respectful order.
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