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
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