The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Four     Number One                           Late Winter 2000

Boycott Irving

by Jim Freeman

Soon after aligning ourselves with the Allagash loggers we realized that the one force that kept appearing was Irving. As the largest landowner, by far, in Maine, Irving dominates the northern half of the state. Just in their woodland division, the Irving corporation owns over two million acres, along with numerous sawmills and forest-related industries. Irving's oil interests include an oil refinery in St. John, New Brunswick, and they sell gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, and other petroleum products. They also own a huge chain of convenience store/gas stations throughout the northeast, which in many areas , is the only show in town. The State of Maine buys their gasoline from Irving. With some inside perspective, when State-mandated new gasoline storage tanks proved too expensive for some mom and pop stores , Irving was able to offer free gas tanks, as long as the stores switched to Irving gas.

One of the ubiquitous Irving stations along the coast of Maine.

How Irving operates up north is really quite simple. They have what would be called a monopsony, or oligopsony, meaning one or few buyers, for products produced by the loggers. Irving floods the work force with lower paid Canadian workers who are not on their payrolls, but on the payrolls of either Canadian contractors or Maine contractors. There is little difference between the two, as a Canadian contractor simply gets a post office box in Maine to become a Maine contractor. These contractors then hire subcontractors who actually do the work. The price paid for the wood, where the wood goes, who trucks it , and believe it or not, how much wood is on the load, is determined either directly or indirectly by Irving. It is not too far fetched to say that a 16 cord load leaving Maine will be scaled at 12 cords when it arrives at one of dozens of mills just over the border in Canada. Irving recently purchased saw mills in Ashland and Houlton and quickly announced they had to lower the price of a cord of wood by $15.00 and lower wages to be "competitive".
In a recent scam Irving will only pay $4.00 a ton to truckers. With the recent obscene increase in diesel prices, truckers lose money trucking a legal load of 30 to 35 tons, so many have been forced to overload their trucks with 55 to 60 tons and illegally haul these dangerous loads just to make a living. Irving gives contractors a "take it or leave"contract , forcing overcutting, illegal cutting, dangerous shortcuts, or overloaded trucks in order to make any money at all.
There is a lot of information out there - the more one looks, the more one sees. What can you do? Boycott Irving, which would include gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, and propane, sundry products from their Mainway convenience stores, wood products from lumber yards, (just ask the lumberyard for 2x stock from another supplier) and any other products Irving produces. Send a clear message to Irving that their domination in Maine is unacceptable. Support Maine labor, BOYCOTT IRVING.

283 Water Street, 3rd floor, P.O. Box 2118, Augusta, Maine 04338
Phone: 207-623-7140

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