....“You give any boy a pile of sand and a toy dump truck when he’s three or four years old and he’ll play with it. I suspect that I’m still playing with toys, only now they cost half a million dollars – and I can build real roads. Hell, there’s very few people in the world who enjoy their work as much as I do!”
....That is the simple credo of Delmore

Pratt, resident at this time at the Wes-tern Forest Products logging camp of Holberg on the north end of Vancouver Island.
....I’ve known Del for 20 years and felt his work and his thoughts about affairs in this forest around us might be as interesting to you as they have been to me.
....First off, he’s an enthusiast, and knows his subject – building roads and bridges. And teaching the newcomers – and, yes, a few oldtimers – how to do the job the right way. He has very definite ideas about all subjects to do with the logging industry on the coast of British Columbia.
....“If we are going to be the highest paid woodworkers in the world then we’ve got to be the best producing woodworkers in the world!”
....For the past 30 years Del has been employed by Western Forest Products or its predecessor, Rayonier Canada. He learned his trade first as a foot logger at Gordon River, and after a few years got into road-building as a bulldozer operator at the same camp. He liked the woods and fit into any amount of jobs.
....“I always thought that working in any logging camp was a privilege.”
....Today Del is road foreman at the Holberg operation of WPF and his duties include building 32 to 37 kilo-meters of road a year, constructing some pretty lengthy bridge spans on three major river systems, and supervising a crew of owner-operator, contractor, company employees totaling about 30. The operation produces about 225,000 cubic metres of hemlock, cedar, spruce and balsam a year.
....“Culverts and ditches – ditches and culverts – that’s the guts and feathers of road-building up here. And we never forget it!”
drill, or backhoe operators who only know hoes. They have never run a spread Cat or backed a gravel truck up a thousand feet of steep hill. ‘Cause if they did, they would bloody well build more turnouts!”
....After about 10 years of working at Gordon River, Del became itchy to get into the IWA and do some things he felt
needed doing. He asked for and recei-ved leave of absence from his employ-ers and served on the Duncan Local 1-80, then presided over by Weldon Jubenville.“I had a couple of axes to grind with the industry and I figured the best way to get it off my chest was to dive right in.”
....And dive in he did. A vacancy in the IWA Regional Council No. 1 came up and Del was appointed as second vice- president of that council. Jack Moore was president and their union territory stretched from the Pacific to Manitoba.
He was determined the loggers should have travel time.
....“To be gone logging for 12 hours to get eight hours pay just didn’t make sense to me!”
....He helped negotiate the first travel time agreement with the industry – as represented by Forest Industrial Rela-tions and as he says, opened the door to today’s travel time pay.
....Fred Fieber, who was the secretary of the regional council, and Del went to work on an apprenticeship program for the logging industry. They went to FIR who were receptive to the program.
....“John Billings, Keith Bennett and Wally Cook could see the writing on the wall and they, like we, knew that the old type handyman – blacksmith – mechanic had to be upgraded if the industry was going to keep on bringing in this modern heavy duty equipment.”
....They had to start from scratch with little to base their ideas on except common sense. The two parties would agree on an approach and then take it to the provincial Department of Labor’s apprenticeship branch. That was where the heavy going took place.
....They hadn’t known, for instance, that a welder was not regarded as a tradesman, but rather as a skill. Coming up with the raise in pay for all the trades was  well  fought  out.  They agreed on
by: Bill Moore
....The area of operations stretches for 80 kilometres across the island and has two distinct types of road-building. One, the large flat valleys have no rock for ballast, but deep overburden and saturated soil. Here you may have to haul quarried rock five or six kilometers. It’s expensive.
....The side hills – up to about 600 metres – are a different story. Cats and drills and backhoes. There’s lots of rock, mostly quite workable, and Del makes sure there is always a good mix in his road-building program. That is, some action in the valleys and some on the hills.
....We visited the logging site of he Cox Logging Co. at Koprino Harbour. Here it was broken up ground – constant rock drilling – and teams of backhoes, wagon drills and bulldozers pushing the logging roads through some very difficult terrain. The Cox Company does the logging and hauling and Del’s crew look after the road-building. Loads of logs from this operation are dumped into the salt water of Quatsino Sound at WFP’s Koprino dump.
....As we started back from Koprino in his pickup, I asked Del if road crews had changed much with the advent of so many new ways to build road. As it was for the entire day that we traveled about the large logging claim, his radio was constantly full of various messages and logger talk.
....“The type of man hasn’t changed, but what has changed is the fact that we are not giving road crews all around training anymore. This is because of the owner-operator or contractor who stays on his own machine, be it a Cat or a hoe or whatever. I see too many specialized people on the road gangs, like drillers, who have never done anything else but
26   ·    BRITISH COLUMBIA LUMBERMAN           JULY 1984

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pre-qualification tests for those people already employed in the trades and traveled all over B.C. giving examin-ations to these men.
....“We got some pretty skookum raises for some of the trades and we negotiated a 21 cent an hour raise for those in the industry who passed the qualification test.”
....He spent eight years on leave from the Rayonier Company and felt he had had enough of union work. The pay was light – about $700 a month in 1970 and an out of town per diem of eight dollars.
....“The IWA paid our hotel bills and always put us up in a pretty good hotel, but hell, we couldn’t eat there cause the meals were too high. Believe me we scoured the towns for cheap bean joints.”
....And the travel was heavy. There were always problems to be solved in the half of Canada the IWA was active in. Del felt he had done his stint so he left the IWA and phoned John Harrison at Rayonier and asked for a bulldozing job in any of their northern camps. In half an hour Ian Patterson phoned him back and he was offered the job of road foreman at Mahatta River. He took it and enjoyed the camp for a few years, working with Don Beisse, the manager.
....He was transferred to the Queen Charlotte Islands to the company’s Sewel Inlet camp where Fred Mantic was the boss.
....“Well, Mantic and I hit it off real good and again I liked the camp. But Mantic was moved to Holberg and I was transferred down there too. What an outfit!”
....This was 1973 and Holberg had nearly 300 personnel. Thirteen steel towers and an average of 50 loads of four metre bunk log trucks a day! Del was in his glory. Lots of road to build and again a camp he liked.
....Today – 11 years later – the same camp has a personnel of about 150 and dumps 40 loads a day. One steel tower is left and three Madill grapple yarders on double shift, plus a loing boom cherry picker get the production.
....The cookhouse was closed last Christmas and the bunkhouses have been very neatly converted into one and two bed-room apartments. No sad songs for the old cookhouse Del says, everyone is better off.
....Del loves the backhoes, but still has a soft spot for line shovels.
....“When we get into some of these big spruce swamps, where there is little material to pull in and punch up your subgrade, I thikn the line shovel with pads can do a bit better job.”
....But make no mistake about Del’s feeling for the backhoe and its ability to be the jack-of-all-trades for road buil-ding. He knows the hoe will get more shot rock out of a quarry than any front end loader or line shovel could ever do. And its mobility compared to a line shovel on pads is stated fact. Hardly any blasting of stumps is ever done for he backhoe because of its power in digging out the biggest of stumps. The saving here on stumping powder is considerable.
....As we drove to near the other side of the 80 kilometre claim – with the radio constantly chattering away – we talked about the future. We were at 550 metres at Northeast 60, overlooking a great expanse of the vHolberg logging area. We talked of the reduction of the work force in logging today due to the recession.
....“There’s no doubt about it, the cream has risen to the top. There’s a hell of a lot less skim milk and a lot more cream as far as staffing goes today.”
....I asked him what would be his number one priority if he went back into IWA union work again. What would he want to accomplish for loggers.
....If I were a power in union affairs again, I’d go for a say in management. I’m talking about “the bigs” – M & B and Canfor etc., not the small outfits. I’d like to see representation of the work force on their boards of directors. I sometimes feel we get the “mushroom treatment” of being kept in the dark and surrounded by secrecy.
....“The work force sees what’s going on and good good representatives from
that force could be a tremendous help to an intelligent board of directors. Yes, I’d work for that!”
....At the start of each year Del pulls in his entire road gang and after a safety session he brings out the year’s road budget and goes into detail of what’s ahead. They talk of where every dime will go. There is nothing confidential about this from the company’s point of view. He gets great feedback into every aspect of the year’s work and there are no secrets.
....I asked how he feels that the logger can benefit by having representation on a board of directors.
....“Well, we have to improve to keep competitive. More money is not the answer, so what could be better than to give the logger involvement in his company’s direction. Out of it comes better trust in each other – management and labor. This confrontation of union and management must stop or we’ll be in real trouble.
....“I see the owner operators and small contractors in these big camps as the way of the future. And the union will have to streamline their thinking and get in on these new ways.
....“Jack Munro is a canny man and I’m sure hec realizes all this, and will un-doubtedly be looking at the future. But as this generation of loggers fades out the new generation may not find that the union can do enough for them. As an oldtimer and a union man I don’t likke what I see – but we’ve got to be competitive if we’re going to keep this industry alive.”
....Quite a guy this Delmore Pratt. A practical man, not afraid to voice some pretty well thought out opinions about things in this forest around us. Knows his stuff about road-building too!
....Just goes to show you what playing in sand piles will get you.

“Keep out of the bight!”

Bill Moore

BRITISH COLUMBIA LUMBERMAN           JULY 1984   ·    27