Page 8 article text (OCR)
The Last Form of Slave Labor in America CHATOM, ALA.—(NBA)— Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued more than a century ago, there remains an unfortunate group of men in the deep South still locked in a severe form of economic bondage. They are independent woodcutters, the people who scavange the Policy Woods above the Gulf of Mexico and such is their plight that many believe them the last form of slave labor in America. The reference to vassalage, while rhetorical, is at least emotionally accurate. The woodsmen are lashed to an employment system that resembles nothing so much as an antebellum plantation setup; though their survival depends on the whims of their employers, these men are not allowed to see, talk to or debate their ultimate masters. It works this way: Being independent, the woodsmen are more or less self employed. Theirs is the job of cutting down, trimming and removing the timber much of America will eventually use as paper products. It is tough, often dangerous work. And unpredictable. A day's rain will negate a day's work and thus a day's pay. A broken saw blade can reduce a week's salary by half. There is no group insurance, no unemployment compensation. "Every day," says one worker, "it's like throwin' dice." But even under the best of weather and work conditions, pulpwood cutters must gamble. Since they do not work directly for the pulp companies—Scott Paper and International Paper, to name two — the men have historically been forced to work through middlemen. When they deliver a load of wood to, say. International Paper, it is at the request and consent of an agent called a "dealer." Just as on the plantation, where the slaveboss kept the darkies in line, the pulpwood dealer is a buffer between the laborer and the corporation. More than this, however, the pulpwood dealer is Times Herald, Carroll, la. Tuesday, June 18, 1974 HOUSE PAINT Now thru June 29 '74 MOORE'S' MOORGARD LOW LUSTRE LATEX HOUSE PAINT n Use on wood, masonry and metal surfaces a Brushes easily — dries dust and bug- free in minutes D Resists fumes, alkali, blistering and mildew n Wide selection of fade resistant colors 1 95 Gal. House Paint EXTERIOR GLOSS FINISH D For wood siding, doors and trim o Covers most surf aces in one coat c Long-lasting durability—excellent color retention a White and full line of popular colors $1155 Gal. House Paint Offer Coupon ^ PLEASE FILL OUT IN I purchased GALLON(S) of. MOORE'S HOUSE PAINT H MOORGARD HOUSE PAINT and received as a BONUS . gallons. quarts. ZIP> SALE ENDS Sat. June 29 JOE'S PAINT CENTER West of Court House — Carroll 8 economical life and death for pulpwood cutters. The dealer sets the price for a delivered cord of wood. The dealer establishes the conditions when and where such wood can be delivered to paper companies. "He is like God," says woodcutter Delbert Carney, "If you cross him. you're in big trouble. If you try to leave him, to go to another dealer, the other dealer won't take you in unless the first dealer gives permission." Thus it is the men of the Piney Woods country—the sandy, rainy areas of Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi—are knotted to an occupational structure that, they charge, minimizes their maneuverability while maximizing their dependence. Not being able to deal directly with paper companies, the woodmen have come to rely on the middle dealers almost as company stores. Says one discouraged cutter: "If you need money for a new blade, you probably borrow it from the dealer. If you need money for a new truck, you probably use the dealer as a loan co-signer, and he takes ten- twelve per cent on top of what the bank gets. Then each week when you go to pick up what you earned on wood, the dealer deducts payments on the money you owe. I know myself, sometimes. I've done work all week just to pay off the dealer." •INDKPKNDKNCK' for the Piney Woods woodcutter means a dangerous and unpredictable job with no fringe benefits. The situation is not new, of course. Woodsmen say the cu.tter to dealer to company system has been law for more than a century. "But nobody ever did anything about it before," says Del Carney. "People bitched and moaned but didn't use any muscle. I suppose because of the race thing. The guys who cut are usually black, the guys who own the cutting machinery are usually white. They had mutual interests, but couldn't get together. A lot of the whites just continued to suffer abuse rather than try to unionize with the 'niggers.'" Now at last, Carney adds, the cutters may indeed be deciding to act in solidarity. Carney is the president of an This column of questions and answers on federal tax matters is provided by the local office of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and is published as a public service to taxpayers. The column answers questions most frequently asked by taxpayers. Question. — Can a taxpayer who has paid the tax proposed after an IRS audit still contes. the results of thv> examination? Answer. — Yes. You may file a claim for refund if, after having paid your tax, you believe the tax is erroneous or excessive. If your claim is rejected, you will receive a statutory disallowance of your claim. You can then go to court. If the IRS has not acted on your claim within six months from the date you filed it, you can also file suit for refund. A suit for refund must be filed not later than two years after disallowance of your claim. You may file your refund suit in the United States District Court or the U.S. Court of Claims. For information about procedures for filing suit in these courts, contact the clerk of your District Court or the clerk of the Court of Claims, 717 Madison Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. Question. — I pay my mother $10 a week to take care of my child while I go out to work. Are these payments deductible as child expenses? Answer. — No. Payments made to relatives or dependent household members may not be included in computing the child care deduction. For more information, see IRS Publication 503. "Child Care and Disabled Dependent Care." It's available free from your IRS office. Question. — On April 15. I filed a 1040 ES declaration and paid my first installment of estimated tax for 1974. I just bought a house and the deductions I hope to get for the year should greatly reduce my alliance of woodcutters —called "producers"—known as the Gulfcoast Pulpwood Association. The group, several years old, struck the paper companies last year in its first show of strength. Though the companies refused to recognize the GPA, the dealers had to. Says Carney: "We forced them to raise the price of wood from $19.40 a cord to $25.75. That still ain't enough, but it's something. We feel we started something that can't stop—a better life for the producers." Carney's vision of a better life for woodmen includes one key element: a co-op of pulp cutters that will eventually eliminate the middleman, the dealer, in all business transactions. Who are these dealers anyway?" grumps Carney. "They have no special qualifications. All they do is write up the paperwork and get rich. They don't cut, they don't haul, they don't sweat—all they do is scribble on paper and get rich. Our goal is to get rid of them, hire our own paperwork clerks and then deal with the big paper companies directly." If accomplished, the goal would be revolutionary for the cutters. And also profitable. As it stands now the pulp dealers are paid X-number of dollars per cord of wood from the paper companies (the prices are kept secret, especially from the cutters), and the dealers in turn pay X-number to the cutters minus dealer profits. estimated tax. What should I do? Answer. — Complete the amended computation section of your Form 1040 ES worksheet and file an amended declaration of estimated tax. For changes in your tax situation that require an amended declaration occuring between April 1 and June 2, file the amended declaration by June 17,1974. "If we could work with the companies directly," says Carney, "we could get the original price per cord. Let's say it's $40—well that's $15 more per cord than we get now; that's a few beans on the table." But however enticing the goal, its realities are dim. Paper companies are currently in arbitration with GPA lawyers, but few observers expect any dramatic changes in relationships. Spokesmen for both Scott Paper and International Paper refuse outside queries on the matter. But as one paper executive says privately: "We work through dealers because they are easy to handle. I won't comment on the moral issue, but I think it would be chaotic to begin suddenly working directly with independent cutters. For one thing, unlike the dealers, the cutters would be bound to want more and more money. Then fringe benefits. Then something else and something else. Hell, eventually it would be like hiring thousands of new employes." But even as the paper companies cling to hopes of the past, the woodsmen are holding to their hopes for the future. "We got three-thousand members in GPA now," says Carney. "We think it'll grow to four-thousand, then five-thousand. We got the companies nervous. We got blacks and whites together now, arid in the South, that's the kind of union that means business." FUNNY BUSINESS DOES WOR PAl^Tlhi<S IRE DRBOLEWT OF WITH HIS TECHNOl-O<S4 ASWIdST THE MPSTICA / .FORCES OF MATURE ?J By Roger Bollen \\£Q\ THAT'S 50OD/ L6MME WKITE THAT DOWN/ St. Lawrence Dessert Card Party-Ycnder Auditorium — Wednesday June 19 2 O'clock. Public is welcome. Admission $1. Adv. NEW OPENING HOURS OPEN Wed. & Friday till 9 P.M. Sunday 1 p.m. tb 5 p.m. flPPLIflnCE CEniER Carroll Phone 792-2525-Lake City Phone 464-3281 Before You Puff the Rug but from Under us Check Bierl's Selection (That Will Take A While) Over 1500 samples to choose from. Over 350 stock rolls to select from. Check Bierl's Reputation Over 25 years of carpeting service to the fine people of the Carrolland area. Check Bierl's Brand Names We're known by the companies we keep ,.. Brand names like Bigelow, Masland, Armstrong, Congoleum, Alexander Smith, Barwick and Gulistan. We have them all. Check Bierl's Low Prices By the yard you come out way ahead by buying at Bierl's. That's what it is all about ... to save you money by selecting the right design . . . your perfect color. Check Bierl's Reasonable Terms Yes, you can tell us to "Charge It". Our Revolving Credit Plan is easy. No contracts. No days ... up to 3 years. You name it. •j'wypS* 1 j .'^^^*J**^^ "•T?~. 33&&&frr^&K'.-*f'!'-,- «• sSsgryfj* ^v^*^*-.*-! 100 PENNIES Special CARPETM BIERL'S IS A FULL SERVICE COMPLEX • Complete Carpet Selection • Our Own Installers • Our Own Workroom • Free estimates You Deal Only With BIERL'S From Purchase thru Installation Kjch deposit Iniured to $20.000 FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Carroll County State Bank Arcadia — Carroll Bierl's CARPETMOBILE Means direct service to your home. FREE estimates and measuring. No obligation. Have our fully stocked CARPETMOBILE visit you. I EAST EDGE OF CARROLL ON HIGHWAY 30 ERLS CARROLL, IOWA OPEN SUNDAY 1-5 ALSO OPEN WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY EVENINGS TILL 9 P.M. PARKWAY FURNITURE!