On the weekend of Martin Luther King Day (19th January), log truckers and container haulers from Eastern North Carolina and Virginia will be gathering to formally charter the United Truckers Union as part of the IWW. This event will be the culmination of a nearly year-long organizing drive that led to a work stoppage on the morning of December 8, 2008. That action, which saw small but lively pickets outside of Weyerhaeuser mills along coastal North Carolina, reduced the amount of logs entering the New Bern mill by approximately 35% and shut down several tree stands in the Plymouth area. Only six trucks left BTT’s yard, one of Weyerhaeuser’s primary subcontractors and a target of the strike. Following the morning’s stoppage, a unnamed Weyerhaeuser representative announced to local media that management agreed to the workers’ key demand: that mill management recognise the drivers’ organisation and arrange a meeting between the drivers’ negotiating committee, Weyerhaeuser, and representatives of the subcontractors who employ the drivers. Accordingly, the union has directed a letter to the Vice President for Southern Timberland in Seattle, Washington offering several dates and places for an initial meeting.
Community support has proven integral to the drivers’ success. In particular, local churches have vocally supported the organising efforts. “Preacher,” a union member and an ordained reverend, described this relationship: “The drivers represent the community, the church represents the community. What affects one of us, affects all of us. We’re all in this together.” Along much these same lines, the solidarity shown by the larger labor movement has been a source of moral as well as real world support. The drivers would like to take this opportunity to thank the unionists and environmental activists who picketed Weyerhaeuser corporate headquarters on the day of their recent strike. Likewise, they are extending their sincerest appreciations to USW Locals in North Carolina and Washington State, UE 150, and the Northwest Log Truckers Cooperative.
The drivers have already announced their affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World’s Motor Transport Workers Industrial Union (IWW IU 530). Founded in 1905, the IWW is a democratic and militant rank-and-file industrial union. The IWW believes that only through organisation can the men and women who carry everything our communities need break the pattern of injustice faced by America’s truck drivers.