Union History at Shasta

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When Kimberly-Clark first started operations at the Shasta Mill in late 1964, the plant was a non-union facility. New hourly employees were required to sign an agreement between them and the Company. Not very long after the mill finally became fully operational, there was talk of the mill becoming unionized. Lower right image is a copy of one of the original agreements between a new Shasta Mill hourly employee and K-C mill management.

Several different Unions approached the employees to certify and then join their Union. These included the recently created west coast 'rebel' Union known as the A.W.P.P.W. or Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers. The rebel union had been formed in 1964 due to the western states hourly workers' dissatisfaction and displeasure with the east coast International Unions previously representing their western area mills.

Upper left image is of an embroidered patch from A.W.P.P.W. Local 67 Arcata, CA which had represented the hourly mill workers at the now defunct Simpson Humboldt Pulp Mill just outside of Eureka, CA at Fairhaven on the Samoa Peninsula. The A.W.P.P.W. uniquely crafted logo can be seen in the middle of the patch. Patch courtesy a Local 67 Humboldt Pulp Mill retiree.

Other Unions which wanted to represent the new Anderson, California operation were the I.B.E.W. ( or electrical worker's union); the U.P.P. or (United Papermakers and Paperworkers); the I.W.A. (International Woodworkers of America) and the International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers. K-C also approached the Shasta Mill hourly workers, offering up its own 'company union' called the Shasta Workers Union.

Eventually a certification vote was taken in 1965 which was a very close vote with just over a majority of the Shasta Mill hourly employees electing to be represented by the two major pulp and paper industry unions, while just under half of the employees elected to prefer not to be unionize, instead wanting to create a new Shasta K-C company union later.

When the mill did finally became unionized, the Shasta hourly employees were represented by two separate unions based on where they were working at inside the pulp and paper mill. The U.P.P. basically represented the paper mill hourly employees and the Int'l Bro. of Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers represented the pulp mill, maintenance and shipping/material handling hourly employees at Shasta.

Upper left photo depicts a 1968 Shasta Mill contract agreement booklet between Kimberly-Clark and Unions- U.P.P. Local 917 and the Int'l Bro. Pulp, Sulphite & Paper Mill Workers Local 586. This contract was signed in October at the close of the 'big' strike of 68'. More history about that labor strike can be found further down on this history page.

The two local unions were also called North Valley Local 917 U.P.P. and Mt. Shasta Local 586 Int'l, Bro. Pulp, Sulphite & Paper Mill Workers. Since the two locals did not have an actual labor hall or building at the time, official union records were originally stored in the trunk of one of the union officer's vehicles.

It has been reported though, that the papermaker's local may have also planned to set up a small business office in the back of Paul's Club in downtown Anderson around this time. Concern that the wives of the union officers would find out that 'official' union business was going to be conducted inside the premises of a bar, may have changed that idea.

On Tuesday June 11th 1968, the two Unions went out on strike for a period of about four months. Many of the union members performed picket duty during this strike. According to recollections of those who were there, the 1968 strike was the most militant in the history of the mill.

A couple examples were allegations that individuals may have shot flaming arrows or an incendiary device over the mill property, possibly aiming for the warehouse roof; and that roofing nails and or tacks were intentionally dropped onto the roadway leading in and out of the mill.

The upper left photo depicts local union members picketing the south gate of the Shasta Mill in 1968 - (Note that the building for the No. 2 paper machine floor had not been constructed yet).

The strike of 1968 also effected operations next door at the company's sawmill. According to one paper mill retiree, there was an attempt made to commandeer a lumber truck coming out of the mill.

Another mill retiree recalled the time strikers painted empty cardboard paper towel rolls with red paint in order to mimic sticks of dynamite. A phony fuse was then stuck on the end of these fake 'sticks' and then lit, at which time the strikers then tossed in the direction the old security guard shack near the mill's entrance.

Barriers were also erected between the paper mill and the lumber mill. The two paper unions also picketed the lumber mill gate. The majority of the hourly lumber mill workers honored the pickets, until the pickets were removed.

During the strike, the Unions rented a small building in Anderson on Balls Ferry Road, just east of the railroad tracks. The purpose of renting the building was so that the Unions could conduct official union business throughout the duration of the strike. The two local Unions also leafleted local area businesses during this same period in order to gain local support for their cause.

Times became lean for those strikers who had families as the strike dragged on. Those workers who performed picket duty did receive a small amount of 'picket duty' income.

Many families applied for food stamps during the duration of the strike. Local banks and other financial firms worked out payment arrangements for outstanding loans and other obligations with the strikers and or their families. The local Anderson Farmer's Market also donated ground coffee to those mill workers who were out on strike.

According to Mike T., there were lots of flat tires during that 1968 strike. Mike also mentioned that it was a very hot summer that year while out on 'picket duty'.

One mill retiree noted that Don W. -the mill maintenance boss, was observed on many occasions throughout the 1968 strike, driving out on the 'MERC' into the mill parking lot and removing nail damaged flat tires off of fellow bosses' automobiles.

Don would then take the deflated tire back into the mill and repair it down at the maintenance shop. Later, he would return with the repaired tire and reinstall it on each affected vehicle.

Management recorded many actions of the strikers using a 8mm movie camera. According to accounts, Union officials were then summoned into a hearing regarding these and other issues.

At the June 24th court hearing, the honorable Judge Richard B. Eaton presided. Judge Eaton issued a temporary restraining order against the two unions, calling for a reduction in the amount of strikers picketing the gates, halting blocking of the same gates and demanding a halt to nails being strewn on the mill entry ways.

Last, the order demanded a halt to threatening and intimidating company employees or those doing business with the company. The unions were also instructed to attend another hearing on July 8th to determine whether or not the temporary order should remain in force.

On July 10th, it was reported that someone had slipped into the sheet finishing dept., damaging both equipment and several rolls of paper products staged there. The Company quickly offered a reward of $1000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who caused the damage.

Due to the allegations that someone was attempting to cause damage to mill property, the two unions immediately denied any involvement and worked with law enforcement agencies to come up with a solution.

After discussions with local law enforcement in July, the unions then implemented a roving 'vigilante' patrol with striking hourly mill workers driving an open vehicle or buggie around the clock outside the mill's perimeter.

These patrols would look for any suspicious activity, or anyone attempting to cause problems to the plant property while the strike continued and report such problems to law enforcement. The intent was to protect the mill, so that the workers would have a plant and thus a job to return to, once the strike had been settled.

The 115 day old strike, which was the longest strike in the company's history, was concluded in early October of 1968, with the two unions making very little economic gains, though Mike mentioned that a better contract was negotiated on the expiration of the next labor agreement.

In early August of 1972, a special convention was held in Denver, Colorado in which the two separate unions merged into the United Paperworkers International Union or UPIU.

The two left photos depict both front and back of a paperweight which came from this founding convention back in Denver. Union delegates from the Shasta Mill attended this convention to support the merger of the two Unions.

At this point in history, the two former local unions representing the Shasta Mill bargaining-unit employees became UPIU Local 1101 or Shasta Paperworker's Local 1101.

The local's location placed it in the Region Eleven zone of representation by the International Union.

Four year's later the newly merged United Paperworkers Union would hold its first convention at Hollywood, Florida. Local 1101 union officers attended this 1st convention of the UPIU in October of 1976. Right photos depict the front and back of a special glass which Local 1101 delegates received at this 1st convention.

Photo on left depicts a booklet explaining the local union's constitution, governing by-laws and working rules for its membership- the hourly bargaining-unit mill workers. According to Tim S., both Hal P. (digester operator) and himself (the brownstock operator) drafted up this constitution while working on shift in the pulp mill digester control room. They then presented the new constitution to the Local for review and final ratification.

In July of 1976, the local union went out on strike again, for a period of approximately just five days. Some of the strikers would later refer to and nickname this labor dispute as "The world's shortest strike!" Laurel B. was the president of the Local at that time.

Right photo depicts Local 1101 union members performing picket duty in July of 1976, out at the mill's front entrance on Hawes Road. The strikers brought lawn chairs, ice chests full of cold beverages, along with various food items while they were out picketing at the mill gate.

The Union shortly there afterward ratified and accepted the Company's final offer by 257 for - to 119 against on July 7th.

The new agreement included a 11% general wage increase with a minimum of 66 cents an hour. No strike benefits were paid out by the Union as the strike was settled within the first week after the employees had walked out.

The strike of 1976 would be the last time in which the bargaining-unit members of the UPIU Shasta Paperworker's Local 1101 would walkout in a labor dispute over contract negotiations.

Left photo depicts a vintage contract agreement book which the Anderson, CA based local union had signed with Simpson-Lee Paper.

In 1984 the United Paperworkers International Union celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a convention in Detroit, Michigan. The right photo depicts a specially designed plate with the 100 year's of unionized paperworkers logo in the middle.

Also handed out at the convention was a booklet which explained the history of the paperworker's union in North America.

Lower left and right photos depict both front and back of this booklet.

The local union was made up of primarily volunteers who received a small stipend paid quarterly. Local 1101 did not have a paid business agent to oversee the daily affairs of the Local's union hall. Instead, the Local had a local union president who also held a regular job inside the mill. The Local also had a vice president, a recording secretary-treasurer, a financial secretary, a guard and the Local's affairs were overseen and reviewed by three local union trustees. All these positions were filled by mill hourly employees elected by their fellow mill hourly coworkers.

All salary mill employees were non-union. The Company did however on many occasions, promote hourly employees into various salaried management positions over the years. Some of these employees had once served as either union officers and or shop stewards at the mill.

The Union also had a written agreement with the Company, in that regular bargaining-unit hourly employees could move up into supervisory relief positions (relief supervisor) for a specified amount of time during each calendar year. This was so that regular salary supervisors could then either take their vacations, or move up to fill in at a higher salary step position so other dept. managers could take their vacations.

Local union officers also presided on the Local's union executive board. There was also a local union standing committee which met with the Company from time to time to discuss grievance issues and other mutual matters. The Local also had safety stewards inside the plant who attended the monthly safety-steering committee meetings and the Local assigned bargaining-unit members to the mill's quality sub-committee.

As noted earlier, due to the mill's location up in northern California, the local union was included in the Region XI zone of the United Paperworkers International Union. Francis Pothier was the elected vice-president for this region. Fran was a longtime friend of Local 1101 and would thus come to the area, to attend on occasion, many of their annual officers' installation dinners. Fran is depicted in the upper right photo swearing in the newly elected Local 1101 officers at one such dinner in Redding, California.

These officers and shop stewards would dedicate, thus sacrifice many hours of their available personal time after work, in order to try to improve both working conditions and the economic betterment of their fellow employees inside the mill. In short, the presence of the Union gave the workers the ability (without the fear of reprisal) to have more of a say about their working conditions.

Left photo depicts one of the final contract agreements with Simpson.

Local 1101 delegates also attended union conventions down in Las Vegas, Nevada. These trips were a favorite among union officers as they combined official union business with gambling and cheap drinks. It had been suggested that future conventions be held in a more geographically central location such as Denver. However Las Vegas offered inexpensive rooms to go along with all of the entertainment.

Upper right photos depict a convention lapel pin and a key FOB, along with a special ball point pen (left and right photo) from these union conventions in Las Vegas which Local 1101 members attended.

For several years, Local 1101 also had a lady's auxiliary which assisted when the Local had special meetings and other functions.

The ladies also volunteered for many years to pick up trash along a section of Interstate 5. Caltrans assigned a section of freeway to the auxiliary from a point at the Cottonwood Creek bridge in southern Shasta County; then on down south about a mile to the I-5 truck scales in northern Tehama County.

Left photo depicts the late Bill Fulmer- Region XI UPIU International representative for northern California, swearing the ladies in as officers for Local 1101's Ladies' Auxiliary during an annual officers' installation dinner held in Redding, California.

Mr. Fulmer worked for the International Union for several years and was assigned as an area representative to oversee and service many local unions, including Local 1101. His territory spanned all across the north state. He was based out of Ripon, California.

The women also put on an annual children's Christmas Party. On a couple of occasions, Santa aka (Bill C.) arrived by either fire truck or helicopter to greet the children patiently waiting at the Local's union hall. Upper right photo depicts Santa inside the union hall handing out goodies to children of local 1101 members at one such Christmas party. Right photo depicts Santa arriving on the union hall property via helicopter.

Local 1101 also donated money to various area organizations such as the Anderson-Cottonwood Christian Assistance program and the Cottonwood Little League.

And 1101 was also an active member of the Five Counties Central Labor Council with Shasta Paperworker maintenance members usually volunteering both their time and expertise, in manning the hot, smoky barbeque grill-pit during the annual Five Counties Labor Day picnic and festivities held at Anderson River Park each September (right photo). These men continue to volunteer their time each Labor Day.

Upper left image depicts the unique design which the local union had created for it's union shirts, hats, etc. The image of Mt. Shasta is in the background, with a roll of paper and a text book in the foreground. The local 1101 bargaining-unit employees were very proud of the paper products which they made.

In the early 1990s, a labor agreement could not be reached between the Company and Union during contract negotiations.

Bargaining-unit employees had been participating in building in-plant solidarity by wearing red colored tee shirts to work on Fridays.

At one point though, negotiations fell through and the union threatened to go out on strike. This would later become known as 'the strike that never was'.

As the local union made preparations to go out on strike one morning, the union officers got word that an out of area security firm may have come into town to thwart the union's intentions. The Union then met with the Company later that day to notify management that it chose not to strike at this time if the Company would come up with a better contract offer for the unionized workforce.

At the meeting it has since been said that there was much frustration on the part of management, in that there had already been both much time and expense invested in preparing for the strike. It was said that one management official was so infuriated by this that he said the Union could not change its mind at this point and choose not to go out on strike.

A strike however, was averted at this point and the company did not lock out the union membership. Later, both the Union and Company sat down and worked on improving their relationship.

Toward the end of the 1990s, the UPIU merged with another union to be known as PACE. At that point, UPIU Local 1101 became PACE Local 8-1101. Right photo depicts the new PACE union logo.

Just prior to the mill closure, the bargaining-unit rejected additional modified contract language to the existing labor agreement which would have essentially eliminated approximately 71 more hourly jobs in the mill; a demand to eliminate one shift- going instead to a 12 hour shift rotation schedule; and last, a demand from management for a pay cut from the hourly workforce.

By this point in time, many of the remaining employees at the mill were basically frustrated, bewildered and or burnt out. They had accepted many cost reduction measures over the past several years. Some of these past concessions had included the elimination of many jobs, thus placing more work onto those who remained at the mill.

There was also a consensus among some bargaining-unit employees, that management's approach about seeking pay cuts had been 'one-sided' thus unacceptable, and that any additional pay cuts demanded should have been made 'across the board' effecting everyone remaining at the mill, not just the hourly work force.

And while during this time, there were many rumors circulating around the plant about the mill being sold, in reality an actual buyer for the Shasta pulp and paper mill operation never materialized during that summer of 2001. The mill abruptly closed around August 21st of 2001.

Upper left and right photos depict a specially designed commemorative watch which Local 1101 handed out to its membership as a parting gift when the Shasta Mill closed.

Proceeds used to purchase these watches were withdrawn from the local union's treasury account. The Shasta Paperworker's unique logo is seen, inset into the watch dial.

Today, the pulp and paper mill operation is no more and many in the area still desire the same economic benefits from which it once produced for the local community. The fact of the matter is, the mill was a unionized operation. It produced a premium product (paper) for the west coast printing markets. Hourly employees were compensated accordingly because they were both skilled and unionized. Management was also compensated more in part, because of this.

On any given day, one will still hear while around in town, that there were many talented individuals, both hourly and in management who were once employed at the Shasta Mill. Some were well educated and understood the equipment and the many various processes inside both the pulp and papermaking plant.

There will be more history added about the role that the union played at the Shasta Mill in the future.