October 5, 1999
Spokane Spokesman-Review

Unusual alliance rallies against Kaiser
Labor, environmental groups team up to target Maxxam Inc.

By Karen Dorn Steele and Hannelore Sudermann - Staff writers

"Have you heard the one about the Steelworker and the environmentalist?
Lots of companies wish we were joking."

That full-page ad in Monday's New York Times announces an unconventional
alliance of labor and environmental groups -- with hundreds of thousands of
potential members.

No. 1 corporate target of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the
Environment: Maxxam Inc., the company that controls 63 percent of Kaiser

The group will fight unethical corporate practices such as the Kaiser
lockout of nearly 3,000 union members, its founders said Monday in a San
Francisco news conference.

It also will participate in the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle
next month, where debates over threats to workers and the environment from
globalization are expected to be intense.

The $15,000 newspaper ad campaign was paid for by the United Steelworkers
of America and by Earth Island Institute and Friends of the Earth founder
David Brower, the internationally known "Archdruid" or dean of modern
American environmentalism.

The new alliance links two generations: the 87-year-old Brower and a
younger group of union organizers, including David Foster, the 51-year-old
lead negotiator for locked-out Steelworkers in the Kaiser negotiations.

"This alliance is long overdue. I've spent my 25 years in the labor
movement trying to create this," Foster said.

Brower used part of a recent $400,000 environmental prize from Japan to
help launch the alliance's ad campaign, he said Monday.

"This will be a conscience for corporations and politicians that have lost
theirs. I'm delighted that Charles Hurwitz brought us together. It won't
please him, but it pleases us," Brower said.

Hurwitz is the CEO of Maxxam, the Houston company embroiled in
controversies over clearcutting California redwoods and locking out union
workers in Spokane, Tacoma, Ohio and Louisiana.

The labor-green alliance was born a year ago in California and energized
further at Maxxam's annual stockholder meeting outside Houston in May.

The allies forged the "Houston Principles," guidelines for corporate
behavior. They've been signed by 120 leading environmentalists and more
than 100 union leaders.

The alliance is an "extraordinary marriage of convenience" doomed to fail,
said Maxxam spokesman Josh Reiss.

"A lot of Steelworkers are going to besurprised that their leadership has
allied itself with eco-terrorists bent on job destruction," Reiss said.

A Kaiser spokesman also called the alliance counterproductive.

"It's unfortunate that the union leadership is spending so much time on
these efforts rather than sitting down at the bargaining table and trying
to reach an agreement," said Scott Lamb in Houston.

The new marriage won't end with the resolution of the Kaiser impasse and
will become a leverage for corporate reform, Foster said.

A locked-out Kaiser Aluminum worker from Spokane has helped launch the
alliance. Steelworker Don Kegley has been in Humboldt County, Calif.,
training for months to be an environmentalist and trade activist.

"It all really feels like one fight," said the burly Steelworker. "It feels
like something that's long overdue."

Kegley said he expects the WTO meeting in Seattle to be "the biggest thing
since Woodstock." WTO trade policies are "bad for Americans," he said.

On Saturday at a rally for the Steelworkers who have been out of their
Kaiser jobs for a year, Kegley and an environmentalist named Felony held a
sham wedding to announce the alliance. Kegley wore a hard hat and Felony, a
white wedding dress with foliage pinned to the front.

The "green steel" alliance won't mean job losses for union members, Foster
said. Steelworkers have worked previously with industry officials on Clean
Air Act-mandated improvements in coke ovens that led directly to
preservation of several thousand jobs, he said.

"When environmentalists and labor sit down and agree on a good
environmental policy, the end result is jobs, not job loss," he said.


The alliance
The labor-green alliance was born a year ago in California and energized
further at Maxxam's annual stockholder meeting outside Houston in May.

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