by David Martin
February 15, 2005
In 1984, the strating wage at KPC may very well have been $11.30 per hour. I can't say for sure, as I didn't start there until 1986, but I do know that in 1986, the starting wage was $8.00 per hour. But there was all the overtime a person wanted. Also in 1986, after not being able to negotiate a contract, and having to work under an implemented offer, the Union leadership of the AWPPW (Assosication of Western Pulp and Paper Workers)at KPC was disgruntled to say the least.
There may be a few folks out there who recall the timber wars of the 1980's and 1990's. There were rallys on both sides and there were a lot of heated words both spoken and in print. Man, some people had their fifteen minutes of fame. Sides were chosen and battle lines were drawn.
One incident that really stands out in memory was when Colorado Senator Tim Wirth and his environmentalist buddies blew into town to hold public hearings on the Tongass Timber Reform Act. There were even a few people naive enough to think that opposing views would be atken seriously. AS I recall, the hearings were at Ketchikan High School; the results were a foregone conclusion.
The reason that incident sticks with me, is that the AWPPW leadership at KPC, or some of them, chose to testify before the politicians about how bad a place to work KPC was and all the harm that it was doing. I believe the record will reflect that it was their feeling (The Union leaders) that the 50 year timber contract needed to be terminated.
I will not say that the testimony of the AWPPW leadership at KPC is what caused the contract to be terminated, but I will say that the testimony was a stab in the back to the working men and women at KPC.
With regards to what the working people of Ketchikan deserve Mr. Weihing, is that an example of "Better?"
Economics and availability of resources will determine whether or not the veneer plant is successfull with Mr. Falconer. I ask you, Mr. Weihing, how many year round jobs are there in Ketchikan right now, today, that pay $12.00 - $15.00 per hour? How many jobs would be, or could be created in the support sector if the veneer plant were viable?
That's what Ketchikan deserves, Mr. Weihing, the chance and opportunity for success.
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