New Union Struggle

Alaska union reformer Chris White, featured in MJ's expose of corruption in the Laborers Union, has been threatened with an attempt to expel him from the union because of his participation in the story and other reform moves.

On September 8, 1980, internal union charges were filed against White, but hours before a hearing was to take place, the charges were dropped. At the top of the list was the allegation that White "did conspire and take part in an article in the magazine Mother Jones which brought into disrepute, suspicion and public shame numerous officers and members of the Laborers International Union and our fraternal brothers, the Teamsters."

As reported in "Six Ways to Take Over a Union," by Ed Barnes and Bob Windrem (August 1980), White helped form a rank-and-file group in Fairbanks called ROOR (Ruled Out Of Order).

Through ROOR, dissident members of Alaska locals of the Laborers, Teamsters, Carpenters, Electricians and Culinary Workers unions have campaigned for union democracy, more aggressive organizing of nonunion workers and an end to what they claim is mismanagement of their pension and welfare funds.

Among the offensive and conspiratorial statements attributed to White in the charge is this quote from a newspaper story on ROOR's victory in the lawsuit against a union dues increase: "More important than the money is that we have established the principle that workers should exercise control over their unions."

Since the MJ story appeared, White and other Laborers dissidents around the country have been able to make contact with each other for the first time. They hope to set up a national network of reform-minded members called Laborers for a Democratic Union. -Steve Early

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