Corporate Profile

Cutting the National Forests 1991-2000

Weyerhaeuser's Origin in the Railroad Public Land Grants

Railroads & Clearcuts website

Weyerhaeuser: Timberland Empire (acres & locations) (maps)

Weyerhaeuser: The Real Estate Empire

Cutting Jobs at Home, Cutting Forests Overseas

Weyerhaeuser: Global Timber Titan

Weyerhaeuser Buys MacMillan Bloedel

A Profile of the Weyerhaeuser Corporation

 

compiled by George Draffan, Endgame.org


Weyerhaeuser’s operations as of 2011 (Seattle Times, August 13, 2011):

Timberlands:
6,200,000 acres in the United States
1,100,00 acres in Washington
1,000,000 in Louisiana
900,000 acres in Oregon.
Also leases 14 million acres in Canada and owns 387,000 acres in Uruguay and China.
The only company that owns more timberland is Plum Creek.

Home-building:
Quadrant in the Puget Sound Washington area
Maracay in Arizona
Pardee in California and Nevada
Trendmaker in Texas
Winchester in the Washington, D.C., area.

Wood products:
44 mills that produce lumber, panels and other building products such as manufactured joists.


Cellulose fibers:
Four mills that make absorbent pulp for diapers and other products
One mill that makes packaging for products like milk cartons
One mill in Canada that makes pulp for tissue products.

Newsprint:
A newsprint mill in Longview Washington that is a joint venture with Nippon Paper.

 

 Introduction

For over a hundred years, the name has been synonymous with timber. Family members, and the families of Weyerhaeuser partners, have owned and managed dozens of timber companies, from Pine Tree Lumber, to Potlatch and Boise Cascade, to the Weyerhaeuser Company itself. By the early twentieth century, Frederick Weyerhaeuser was castigated as the classic cut-and-run timberman. The muckrakers called him a lord and a king, a recluse, and a land-grabber, and his riches were compared to Rockefeller's. More staid and careful researchers, producing dissertations and federal agency reports without the colorful labels, have reached some of the same conclusions: Weyerhaeuser controls millions of acres of forest, and the result has been monopoly and deforestation.

The History of Weyerhaeuser

The pattern has indeed been cut and run. Weyerhaeuser bought and cut and abandoned hundreds of thousands of acres in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. In the 1870s and 1880s, Weyerhaeuser bought more than 200,000 acres in Wisconsin from Cornell University. In the 1890s, Weyerhaeuser bought 212,000 acres in Minnesota from the Northern Pacific, which had been granted the land by the federal government. The Weyerhaeuser-controlled Beef Slough Manufacturing Company alone delivered more than nine billion board feet of logs to Mississippi River mills between 1870 and 1906. From the Midwest, Weyerhaeuser moved on to the South and Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s, and then to Canada and Asia and Latin America in the past several decades. By its own estimate, since 1900 Weyerhaeuser has clearcut four million acres. The "tree-growing company" publicizes its pioneering tree farms, but as the old forests disappear, mills are closed and workers are left unemployed. In the past, cut-over areas have been abandoned, defaulted for back taxes, because the land was worthless to the company once the timber was gone. In modern times, it is more likely that the public subsidy might come in the form of federal grants to Weyerhaeuser to retrain mill workers when mills are closed.

Weyerhaeuser today is the world's largest private owner of timber land, the largest producer of lumber, and a leader in the production of cardboard and paper packaging and disposable diapers. Annual reports filed by Weyerhaeuser show that today there are timber operations or offices in 44 states and in Canada, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, England, Guatemala, Venezuela, South Africa, Hong Kong, Russia, Japan, China, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Its 1971 annual report claimed rights to another two million acres of forest in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Just as Weyerhaeuser's operations in the United States depended on land obtained from the public domain, its "operations in Canada, Indonesia, and Malaysia depend solely or substantially upon purchase of government timber." While some of its foreign operations have ceased, many others have been disguised with various names; some have been hidden by being "sold" to local owners.

By the late 1990s Weyerhaeuser owned 5.6 million acres in the Southern and Northwestern United States, and held long-term license arrangements to 18 million acres in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Canada. 

 

Timberland owned, leased or licensed
(circa year 2000)

U.S. Northwest 2,048,000 acres
Oregon, Washington

U.S. South 3,123,000 acres
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma

Canada: 27 million acres
Alberta: 7,453,000 acres
British Columbia: 2,899,000 acres
Ontario: 4,221,000 acres
Saskatchewan: 12,462,000 acres

acquisition of MacMillan Bloedel added the following:
Australia: 62,500 acres
New Zealand 193,000 acres
Uruguay 234,000 acres

TOTAL 34,024,500 acres

 

Facilities and products

lumber (softwood)

Alabama

plywood

Alabama

market pulp

Alberta

lumber (softwood)

Alberta

oriented strand board

Alberta

containerboard

Arizona

lumber (softwood)

Arkansas

plywood

Arkansas

lumber (hardwood)

Arkansas

market pulp

British Columbia

lumber (softwood)

British Columbia

containerboard

California

containerboard

Colorado

containerboard

Connecticut

containerboard

Florida

market pulp

Georgia

containerboard

Georgia

chemicals

Georgia

lumber (softwood)

Georgia

particleboard and fibreboard

Georgia

containerboard

Hawaii

containerboard

Illinois

containerboard

Indiana

containerboard

Iowa

containerboard

Kentucky

lumber (softwood)

Louisiana

containerboard

Maryland

containerboard

Michigan

oriented strand board

Michigan

lumber (hardwood)

Michigan

containerboard

Minnesota

market pulp

Mississippi

fine paper

Mississippi

containerboard

Mississippi

chemicals

Mississippi

lumber (softwood)

Mississippi

containerboard

Missouri

containerboard

Nebraska

containerboard

New Jersey

containerboard

New York

market pulp

North Carolina

fine paper

North Carolina

containerboard

North Carolina

chemicals

North Carolina

lumber (softwood)

North Carolina

oriented strand board

North Carolina

particleboard and fibreboard

North Carolina

containerboard

Ohio

containerboard

Oklahoma

chemicals

Oklahoma

lumber (softwood)

Oklahoma

plywood

Oklahoma

lumber (hardwood)

Oklahoma

containerboard

Oregon

chemicals

Oregon

lumber (softwood)

Oregon

particleboard and fibreboard

Oregon

lumber (hardwood)

Oregon

lumber (hardwood)

Pennsylvania

market pulp

Saskatchewan

fine paper

Saskatchewan

lumber (softwood)

Saskatchewan

containerboard

Tennessee

containerboard

Texas

containerboard

Utah

containerboard

Virginia

market pulp

Washington

fine paper

Washington

newsprint

Washington

bleached paperboard

Washington

containerboard

Washington

lumber (softwood)

Washington

plywood

Washington

lumber (hardwood)

Washington

containerboard

West Virginia

oriented strand board

West Virginia

fine paper

Wisconsin

particleboard and fibreboard

Wisconsin

lumber (hardwood)

Wisconsin

doors

Wisconsin

 

Board of Directors & Their Interlocks
as of April 2006

NOMINEES FOR ELECTION - TERMS EXPIRE IN 2009

Richard F. Haskayne

TransCanada Corporation, Fording Inc, NOVA Corporation, MacMillan Bloedel, Encana Corporation, Interhome Energy Inc, Order of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, University of Calgary

Donald F. Mazankowski

Member of Canadian Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Power Group of Companies, Shaw Communications, Great-West Lifeco, IGM Financial, Yellow Pages Group, Canadian Oil Sand Trust, Atco Ltd, Gowlings LaFleur Henderson LLP, University of Alberta, Institute of Health Economics, Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, Canadian Utilities, IMC Global, Gulf Canada Resources, Gulf Indonesia Resources, Golden Star Resources,

Nicole W. Piasecki

Boeing, Coal Valley Company, YWCA, British American Project

CONTINUING DIRECTORS - TERMS EXPIRE IN 2007

Steven R. Rogel

Willamette Industries, Kroger, Union Pacific, Boy Scouts of America, American Forest & Paper Association, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement

Richard H. Sinkfield

Rogers & Hardin, United Auto Group, Central Parking Corporation, Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation, Atlanta College of Art, Vanderbilt University, Boy Scouts of America, State Bar of Georgia

D. Michael Steuert

Fluor Corporation, Litton Industries, GenCorp, TRW, Prologis, National Financial Executives, Mental Health Association of Summit County Ohio

James N. Sullivan

Chevron Texaco

CONTINUING DIRECTORS - TERMS EXPIRE IN 2008

Martha R. Ingram

Ingram Industries, Ingram Micro, AmSouth Bancorporation, Vassar College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville Symphony Association, Nashville Opera, Nashville Ballet, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

John I. Kieckhefer

Kieckhefer Associates, J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation

Arnold G. Langbo

Kellogg, Johnson & Johnson, Whirlpool, International Youth Foundation

Charles R. Williamson

Chevron Texaco, Unocal, US-ASEAN Business Council

 

 Kim Williams

Elected Sept 11, 2006 to replace Robert J. Herbold. Formerly with Imperial Chemical Industries Pension Fund; Loomis, Sayles & Co; and Wellington Management Co LLP.

Debra A. Cafaro

Election effective Feb 15, 2007. President and chief executive officer of Ventas, Inc, a leading health care real estate investment trust (REIT). She also serves on the executive committee of the board of governors of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT).

 

Managers & Owners

The corporation's owners and directors, a remarkable number of which are descendents of the founding Weyerhaeuser and of his early partners in the Denkmann, Driscoll, Ingram, Musser, Jewett, Clapp, Laird, and Norton families, are doing quite well. Forbes magazine claimed the Weyerhaeuser family was worth over a billion dollars in 1988. According to Bradley Witt, representing the pension fund of the Western Conference of Industrial Workers, Weyerhaeuser directors, management, and associates held 15 to 16 percent of the company stock in 1988. Chairman George Weyerhaeuser, the founder's great-grandson, was paid $1,105,000 in 1991, and held almost three million shares of stock. Weyerhaeuser (family members and companies) in turn owns shares of other companies; it has been estimated that forty percent of Potlatch is still controlled by Weyerhaeuser interests.

John Driscoll, the president of the Rock Island Company, which manages Weyerhaeuser investments, is a descendent of one of the original 19th century Weyerhaeuser partners; he still held 3.9 million shares in 1991. Director E. Bronson Ingram, a trustee of Vanderbilt University, held 374,808 shares in 1991. Another director, John Kieckhefer, held 2.9 million shares in 1991; in the 1970s at least, Robert Kieckhefer held another 3.1 million shares. The Laird Norton Trust Company held 2.5 million shares in 1985. John Musser held 895,295 shares in 1975. Weyerhaeuser president and chief executive officer Jack Creighton, who has also served as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, held 240,000 shares of stock.

As of mid-1991, public institutional shareholders of Weyerhaeuser included College Retirement Equities, the Texas Teachers' Retirement Fund, the New York State Teachers and State Common Retirement Funds, California State Teachers' and Public Employees' Retirement Funds.

 

Strength in Diversity

Timber still provides over three-quarters of Weyerhaeuser's revenues, which doubled from the mid-1980s to over $10 billion per year in 1988 and 1989. But timber is no longer Weyerhaeuser's only product. The empire known as "the tree-growing company" is now truly diversified, and includes more than a hundred subsidiaries.

The following list has been compiled from various sources to illustrate the number and diversity of Weyerhaeuser's empire. Some of the companies listed are not technically subsidiaries, but are spin-offs or otherwise-related companies. All have been or are controlled by Weyerhaeuser interests.

Babcock (Florida home-building)
Capricorn Corp. (Philippines)
Centennial Homes
Chehalis Western Railroad
Chesapeake (Indonesia)
Citadel Architectural Products
Comshare
Cornerstone Columbia
Fiduciary Counseling
Innovis Interactive Technologies
International Timber (Indonesia)
Kalimanis (Indonesia)
Kennedy Bay (Malaysia)
Laird Norton Trust Co.
Lanoga Corporation
Las Positas Land Co.
Matthew G. Norton Co.
Medina Foundation
Mortgage Securities Corp.
North Pacific Paper Co. (Norpac)
Northwest Building Corp.
Northwest Hardwoods
Northwest Landing
Pacific Hardwoods (Malaysia)
Paragon Trade Brands
Pardee Construction
Quadrant Corp

Republic Federal Savings & Loan
Rock Island Co.
Sensor & Simulation Products
Silam (Malaysia)
Snoqualmie Ridge Associates
Tri-Wall Asia
Westwood Shipping
Westwood Shipping Lines
Weyerhaeuser Australia
Weyerhaeuser Canada
Weyerhaeuser China
Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation
Weyerhaeuser Far East
Weyerhaeuser Financial Services
Weyerhaeuser Garden Supply
Weyerhaeuser Information Systems
Weyerhaeuser Insurance Services
Weyerhaeuser International
Weyerhaeuser Italia
Weyerhaeuser Japan
Weyerhaeuser Mortgage
Weyerhaeuser Overseas Finance
Weyerhaeuser Personal Products
Weyerhaeuser Reforestation Intl.
Weyerhaeuser Venture Co.
WRECO (Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co)

Weyerhaeuser controls corporations ranging from Energy Holding Company to the Golden Triangle Railroad to the Bahamas-based de Bes Insurance Company. Weyerhaeuser tree farms grow yew trees to produce cancer cures from the bark. Weyerhaeuser's Westwood Shipping runs logs and lumber and container cargo from the Pacific Northwest to Japan and Korea. Weyerhaeuser Information Systems, which began as the company data processing department, now markets internationally for professional services, information systems, disaster recovery, and manufacturing systems. Its customers have included IBM, Honeywell, DEC, and Hewlett-Packard. District and municipal court jurisdictions in Washington State use Weyerhaeuser computer systems. Weyerhaeuser has even participated in a steering committee designed to test attitudes about converting a mothballed nuclear reactor on the Hanford reservation to a weapons plant.

 

Weyerhaeuser -- the Development Company

Naturally enough for a timber company, one of Weyerhaeuser's major interests has been in construction and development. Weyerhaeuser Mortgage is a major mortgage-banking company, with over $11 billion in loans in the late 1980s. A dozen real estate subsidiaries, operating in Washington DC, Washington State, California, Nevada, and Florida, often building houses or office parks on cutover land, are among the top ten home builders in the United States, with sales over a billion dollars in 1989. Environmentalist Janet Dawes put it this way: "talking about Weyerhaeuser is like talking about the national debt. It's so big, there's no way to visualize it."

Meridian Campus and Northwest Landing, two of the many developments planned by Weyerhaeuser are at the southern end of Puget Sound in Washington State. They are to include 9,300 houses and apartment units on 4,000 acres, and have populations projected at 21,000 people. One will engulf the 600 residents of the town of Du Pont, which was built 70 years ago to run a factory to manufacture dynamite, Du Pont's first product. Both will have environmental impacts on the Nisqually River Delta, one of the last relatively intact estuaries in Puget Sound and the site of a National Wildlife Refuge. "I don't know if it's going to survive as a viable ecosystem," warned Dawes, a member of the citizens watchdog group Nisqually Delta Association. Weyerhaeuser has also leased 344 acres of shoreline nearby for what could become the largest sand and gravel-mining operation in the state.

Long-time Seattle-area environmental activist and political gadfly Harvey Manning questions the preferred image of the company. "They advertise themselves as the tree-growing company, but that's all camouflage. They grow trees up until the time an accountant looks it over and says it's time for a development instead."

When criticized for not protecting wetlands on another parcel of its land in Washington State, Weyerhaeuser executive Jim Fitzgerald was quoted as saying "we're not in the business of maintaining swamps." In addition to destroying the flood-controlling attributes of wetlands, Weyerhaeuser development of former forestlands contributes to urban sprawl and the loss of wildlife habitat.

Its developments have come under fire at land-use hearings. Weyerhaeuser subsidiary Quadrant vice president Steve Dennis told reporters "Do I wear a bullet-proof vest to public hearings? Hah! I need to wear a bullet-proof vest to social occasions." The off-handed joke was not so funny when Snoqualmie, Washington city council members and Weyerhaeuser executives received threats over the annexation of an area Weyerhaeuser intends to develop.

Weyerhaeuser plans to develop 2,000 residential units, retail and office parks, and two golf courses within sight of Snoqualmie Falls, a sacred site for the Snoqualmie tribe. The Falls was the first cultural site recommended by a Washington State panel for the National Register for Historic Places.

 

Political Connections

Such diversified and far-flung enterprises have translated into significant political influence. Weyerhaeuser directors are or have also been at the same time directors and officers of other corporations, including: Boise Cascade, Potlatch, the American Paper Institute, The Business Council, Rand McNally, Safeco Insurance, Alaska Air, Northern States Power, First Interstate Bancorp, US National Bank of Oregon, Bankamerica, Citicorp, Crocker Bank, Texas Commerce Bancshares, Precision Castparts, Burlington Northern Railroad, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Monsanto, Bechtel, Chevron, American Petroleum Institute, Standard Oil of California. Other Weyerhaeuser directors have been trustees of the Boy Scouts of America, University of and Chicago, University of Washington, Reed College, Vanderbilt University, and Northwestern University. The first administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, William Ruckleshaus, has been a director, vice president, and shareholder of Weyerhaeuser.

Weyerhaeuser Political Action Committees donated at least $319,342 between 1985 and 1990, mostly to Republican candidates. This does not give a true picture of Weyerhaeuser's political contributions, since the National Forest Products and the Northwest Pulp & Paper Associations, of which Weyerhaeuser is a member, also gave many thousands of dollars. According to the Associated Press, the timber industry contributed nearly $5 million presidential and congressional candidates over the last eight years.

Weyerhaeuser owns a million and a half acres in Washington State. Former State Governor Booth Gardner, now U.S. ambassador to GATT, is a multimillionaire heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune. Gardner was declared exempt from a 1972 Washington State voter initiative requiring public officials to disclose their financial assets; the Public Disclosure Commissioners, who are appointed by the Governor, renewed the exemption every year.

George Weyerhaeuser, a Yale classmate of George Bush, visited the White House shortly before the Bush administration removed private timber holdings from endangered species protection for the spotted owl. Weyerhaeuser, whose company owns a third of a million acres that could have been place off-limits to timber cutting, denied his visit had any influence over the decision. When the Clinton Option 9 plan was released, Weyerhaewuser endorsed the plan; smaller mills, which don't have their own supply of timber, accused Weyerhaeuser, Simpson, and Plum Creek Timber, which also accepted the plan, of selling out the industry.

The company spends millions of dollars on full-page newspaper advertisements extolling the benefits of industrial, intensively-managed "forest" operations, while replacing diverse natural forests with genetically-engineered, single-species plantations.

In June 1994, Weyerhaeuser executives appeared at "town hall" meetings in Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle. The company had sent invitations (printed on recycled paper) to hundreds of environmentalists. Vice president Charley Bingham acknowledged the company had been slow to recognize public concerns about the environment, and claimed it was now ready to listen and learn. Environmentalists viewed the meetings with skepticism; newspapers praised the willingness of the company to "subject itself to public comment."

 

Monopoly

Weyerhaeuser's history closely parallels the antitrust activities of the lumber and pulp and paper industries.

Weyerhaeuser and its associated companies have been involved in monopolistic bid-rigging, price-fixing, and other predatory practices from their beginnings in the 1880s in the Midwest. Just as one can look at the history of Weyerhaeuser as a story of environmental destruction, one can look at the story of Weyerhaeuser as the story of controlling the timber industry and its forest products markets and of destroying smaller businesses. In 1906, an investigation of timber monopoly led to a court order that the General Paper subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser be dissolved for anti-trust. In 1909, an American Lumberman article (April 3, p. 46) quoted Weyerhaeuser stating that "there is no lumber trust and there never has been." His interests in 46 companies were not for financial control, but for "honest and highly intelligent leadership." The federal government had forced trade associations to stop publishing price lists in 1907, but Gifford Pinchot had the Forest Service do it -- not to keep prices up, but to "prevent cut-throat competition" that forced lumber companies to overcut.

In 1913-1914, the U.S. Bureau of Corporations report "The Lumber Industry" report showed Weyerhaeuser to be one of the three largest holders of timber in the country, with nearly a hundred billion board feet on two million acres in Washington and Oregon.

In 1931, President Hoover approved the U.S. Timber Conservation Board, which, to deal with overcutting, recommended modifying anti-trust laws to allow pricing controls [price-fixing] and mergers. Weyerhaeuser associate Laird Bell was on the Board.

In September 1940, Weyerhaeuser Timber and its associated Washington Veneer, White River Lumber, and Willapa Harbor Lumber were among 69 companies and five associations indicted under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Another indictment named Boise Payette, Potlatch, Weyerhaeuser Timber, and Weyerhaeuser Sales. Among the charges were curtailed production, fixed prices, and the adoption of arbitrary rules. U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Central Division. Weyerhaeuser Timber and others signed a consent decree and paid fines.

In the 1970s, in cases brought before the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, major paper companies paid over $535 million in fines and damages for illegally fixing prices on paper bags, plywood, and cardboard boxes. Weyerhaeuser was fined $54 million. Weyerhaeuser-associated company Boise Cascade was fined $26 million; Potlatch was fines $10 million. The three could have been fined $3 billion.

In November 1991, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating charges that Weyerhaeuser manipulated bidding on federal timber sales in Alaska. Lawsuits were filed by Chilkoot Lumber of Haines and Klawock Timber Alaska, which also charged that Weyerhaeuser "abused marketing agreements [to help sell their products,] to force the two companies out of business." Weyerhaeuser vice president Richard Long's response was to say that "There's no reason to believe there's any substance to this at all... We were hardly responsible for the management of the mills... To continue [financial support] would mean pouring money into ventures that don't seem likely to survive." Chilkoot didn't survive. In 1994, Weyerhaeuser was ordered to pay the by-then bankrupt company $1.2 million.

In August 1992, Florida's Attorney General announced the subpoenas of Weyerhaeuser, Georgia-Pacific, and Louisiana-Pacific, ordering them to supply documentation justifying price increases for plywood and other building materials after Hurricane Andrew. "I don't see any difference between the looters who go through the rubble in the trailer parks and the business people who cash in on this disaster by gouging customers," Attorney General Bob Butterworth said.

 

Pollution, Health & Safety

In June 1992, the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP) released a comprehensive environmental profile of Weyerhaeuser. This report documented environmental violations in British Columbia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin. It listed thirteen Superfund sites at which Weyerhaeuser is a potentially responsible party. It also noted that Weyerhaeuser achieved Environmental Action's "Filthy Five" status in 1984.

For two years in a row, Weyerhaeuser has opposed shareholder resolutions calling for the company to adopt the principles of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES, or Valdez Principles). Chief executive Jack Creighton "praised" the Principles goals, but said the company needed to learn more about them before endorsing them. (The Principles have been highly publicized, and endorsed by more than 60 companies, including General Motors, since their creation in 1989). Weyerhaeuser instead released its own "Annual Environmental Performance Report."

Between 1985 and October 1991, the Washington State Department of Ecology took 137 enforcement actions against the company for violations of air and water quality standards. Fines totalled $814,600. Weyerhaeuser is the state's biggest offender of pollution regulations. The company apparently feels that paying small fines is an acceptable cost of doing business, and is preferable to reducing pollution. This is understandable, since Weyerhaeuser's average annual profit in the years 1987 through 1990 was $437 million.

According to the U.S. EPA's 1989 Toxic Release Inventory, Weyerhaeuser that year released 14.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals, including sulfuric acid, chloroform, formaldehyde, and chlorine. Weyerhaeuser paid a $926,000 fine to North Carolina for removing pollution control equipment and emitting tons of ash from its New Bern pulp Mill. The company could have been fined up to $7.3 million. Its De Queen, Arkansas wood treating plant has contaminated groundwater. Weyerhaeuser ranks eleventh out of the hundreds of companies responsible for cleanup of the infamously toxic Stringfellow Superfund site in California.

The Weyerhaeuser-owned pulp and paper mill at Kamloops on the Thompson River in British Columbia is a dioxin hot spot; provincial medical officers have advised against eating fish caught downstream from the mill; Greenpeace has accused the mill of contaminating fish used by the Shuswap natives. The B.C. Environment Ministry finally issued new organochlorine pollution regulations in 1992; Weyerhaeuser claimed the regulations would cost them millions, and "make the Kamloops mill less competitive than mills in Europe and other parts of Canada."

In April 1992, Weyerhaeuser's Merritt, British Columbia operation was charged with violations of B.C.'s Waste Management Act for illegally discharging and transporting wastes; maximum fines under the charges could total $3 million.

And Weyerhaeuser became a defendant in a $100 billion class action suit alleging widespread poisoning of rivers and streams with dioxin, a by-product of chlorine bleaching of paper, and a powerful carcinogen. The suit was filed by Texas residents against 30 paper companies and the American Paper Institute, on behalf of "every person who has been exposed against their will and against their knowledge."

The costs of environmental and other problems cannot be avoided forever. In 1991 Weyerhaeuser reported its first loss since the 1930s depression, placing the blame on plant closures and severance for laid-off workers, and environmental cleanups. In 1992, 241 residents the town of Aberdeen, Washington, sued Weyerhaeuser, seeking damages in individual suits in Grays Harbor County Superior Court, alleging that their nose bleeds, sore throats, lung disease, and cancer were caused by hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, and chloroform stored in waste ponds at the local Weyerhaeuser pulp mill. Warnings had been issued by the State Health Dept., and fined were levied by the State Dept. of Ecology. In 1993, a jury found Weyerhaeuser negligent and a nuisance and awarded 22 plaintiffs $700,000.

In 1992, in keeping with its century-old pattern of attempting to evade responsibility for its actions, Weyerhaeuser sued Aetna and other insurance companies, claiming they should pay for environmental cleanups at 42 Weyerhaeuser sites around the United States. In May 1994, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that insurance companies cannot reject claims for environmental clean-ups just because the company had not been sued by the state or federal government. Corporations hailed the decision as a step forward for "cooperation" between polluters and government.

Logging is a dangerous business. Five times more loggers are killed in Washington State, per capita, than workers in heavy construction, the second most deadly occupation. CEP cited a report listing Weyerhaeuser as the third-worst violator of OSHA regulations from 1977 through 1990. Pollution of rivers is not the only concern in British Columbia; the Workers Compensation Board has ordered Weyerhaeuser to review safety procedures after several chlorine leaks sent 19 people to first aid.

 

Jobs and Weyerhaeuser

Although the company is well-known for laying off workers when deforested areas can no longer supply jobs, this is not the only way Weyerhaeuser affects employment. As the major exporter of raw logs in the United States, Weyerhaeuser affects many communities, such as Coos Bay, Oregon, where mill jobs have been lost because timber is shipped to Japan and Korea for processing. The extent of Weyerhaeuser's exports has caused the company to be banned from bidding for timber on national forest land in Washington and many areas of Oregon. In 1991, Greenpeace activists protested against Weyerhaeuser's log exports, hanging banners which read SAVE JOBS AND FORESTS and STOP LOG EXPORTS from the log ship Pine Forest at the company's docks on the Columbia River in southern Washington.

Some of the Weyerhaeuser workforce is unionized. Labor strikes against Weyerhaeuser are an annual summer tradition. The strike of 1986 was particularly bitter. Weyerhaeuser won concessions from its employees equal to four dollars per hour; other forest products companies followed Weyerhaeuser's lead and also forced workers to accept cuts. In many cases, those concessions have not been won back, despite promises for profit-sharing and other benefits. A global company like Weyerhaeuser can play its workers in different regions and countries off one another, in effect getting them to compete with each other for lower wages and benefits. "It's pretty well expected that there will be some financial gains to employees. But we can't go back to the past," said Don Rush, Weyerhaeuser's vice president for timber operations in Washington State. Meanwhile, Weyerhaeuser profits rose from $277 million in 1986 to $601 million in 1989.

In June 1992, Kamloops pulp and paper workers walked off the job, joining 2,500 workers in a strike that has crippled the British Columbia industry, which is responsible for a third of the world's northern softwood pulp output. George Weyerhaeuser, Jr. has recently taken the Canadian helm.

In response to questions regarding layoffs of over 8,000 workers in the past four years as part of a "corporate restructuring," Weyerhaeuser chief financial officer Bill Stivers said, "We're not a philanthropic enterprise. We're in businesss to make a profit." Replying to a letter from a Weyerhaeuser employee who lost his job, Weyerhaeuser President Jack Creighton said "I don't want to emphasize chopping off heads, but if you don't perform, there is not a place at Weyerhaeuser for you."

 

References Cited

Appleman, Roy E. September 1939. Timber empire from the public domain. Mississippi Valley Historical Review 26: 193-208.

Associated Press. 1988. 250 to be laid off at Weyerhaeuser mill [in Everett, Washington]. AP, Oct. 24, 1988.

Associated Press. 1988. Weyerhaeuser plans new city of 14,000. Seattle Times, Nov. 14, 1988.

Associated Press. 1991. 270 idled as Weyerhaeuser mill closes in Oregon [at Springfield]. Seattle Times, May 6, 1991.

Associated Press. 1991. Weyerhaeuser to shut down Oregon mill [at Klamath Falls]. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 14, 1991.

Associated Press. 1992. Paternalistic image may be a thing of the past for Weyerhaeuser. Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, Mar. 2, 1992, p. 1, 8.

Associated Press. 1992. Citizen loses fight to make governor's fortune public. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mar. 26, 1992.

Associated Press. 1992. Weyerhaeuser sued over noxious odors; health concerns: plaintiffs in the lawsuit say gases from wastewater tanks cause nosebleeds to cancer. Olympian, Dec. 1, 1992.

Associated Press. 1993. Jury awards $700,000 to plaintiffs in lawsuit against Weyerhaeuser. Seattle Times, Apr. 16, 1993, p. C2.

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