On Dec 8, North Carolina log haulers and container drivers - many who are misclassified as "independent contractors" - will be holding a work stoppage. They are demanding paper giant Weyerhaeuser and its subcontractors recognize their newly formed union, the United Truckers Cooperative.
On Monday Dec 8, the drivers of the United Truckers Cooperative will hold a work stoppage and picket outside of Weyerhaeuser Mills in Plymouth and Vanceboro, North Carolina. The workers are demanding Weyerhaeuser arrange a meeting between mill management, subcontractors, and representatives of the truckers to address the drivers’ legitimate grievances and negotiate a formal agreement on wages and working conditions.
A local driver who goes by the handle “Hollywood” explained the reason for the action: “If you see injustice, there’s something wrong and you are bound to stand up and say ‘no more.’ What’s going on with North Carolina truck drivers is wrong, so we’re standing up.”
The workers will be joined by concerned community members. In particular, local ministers will be in attendance. “Preacher,” a union member and an ordained reverend, recognized “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.”
The drivers, who haul logs and finished wood products, have labored under a subcontracting system that has reduced them to little more than sharecroppers. Although many are misclassified as “independent contractors,” almost all work for subcontractors of paper giant Weyerhaeuser. Local driver “Pork Chop” stated that the drivers “demand to be paid directly by Weyerhaeuser.” He added that “What’s good for one is good for all” and that drivers were tired of management favoritism.
As founders of the Eastern North Carolina’s first truckers’ union, the members of United Truckers have voted to affiliate with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW IU 530). Founded in 1905, the IWW is a democratic and militant rank-and-file industrial union. The IWW believes that only through organization can the men and women who carry everything our communities need break the pattern of brutal exploitation and injustice faced by America’s truck drivers.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Weyerhaeuser is the second largest landowner in the United States and owns over 600,000 acres of forest in North Carolina alone. Besides having a history of mistreating its workforce, Weyerhaeuser’s environmental record is abysmal, both in our state and in many countries around the world.
The United Truckers Cooperative has received expressions of solidarity from North Carolina Public Sector Union UE 150, United Steel Workers Local 1325, and is actively seeking solidarity from other labor unions. Nationally, the Northwest Log Truckers Cooperative, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists, has endorsed the union and the work stoppage. Unionists and environmental activists in Seattle will be demonstrating outside of Weyerhaeuser corporate headquarters in support of the North Carolina drivers.