After ten years on staff at IBEW Local 1245, Harvard “Carl” Lamers retired from the union this fall.
Lamers is looking forward to unwinding, spending time with family and pursuing his favorite hobbies, including hunting and fishing, but he will always look back fondly on his time with the union.
“I’ll miss helping people where I could,” said Lamers, “and being able to go up to the employers and straighten out some of the injustices I had to live with when I was a member.”
Lamers worked as a commercial fisherman for 14 years before he began his union career as a Line Clearance Tree Trimmer with Davey Tree in the 80s. He was initiated into the IBEW in 1986. As a rank-and-file member, Lamers served on the Local 1245 Advisory Council, as a shop steward, and as an alternate trustee for the IBEW pension fund. He was also an integral player in the organizing campaign at Family Tree Services Inc in the early aughts. He worked as a temporary organizer for the Local during that time, and ultimately helped the workers at Family Tree win union recognition and a contract that included wage increases ranging from 9.5-33%. Lamers then returned to his job as a Crew Foreman at Davey, before being hired on as a permanent Business Rep for Local 1245 in 2007 (see sidebar).
As a Rep, Lamers worked with Line Clearance Tree Trimmers in the northern area, which is some of the roughest territory in terms of both size and geography.
“Working that service area requires more nights away from home than at home, and long hours behind the wheel of a vehicle in service to the members,” said Senior Assistant Business Manager Ralph Armstrong. “I can’t say I have ever I heard Carl complain about it.”
Lamers is one of those individuals who preferred never to bask in the limelight. He worked tirelessly to make gains for his members, but when all was said and done, he was more than happy to step back and let others take the credit.
“Carl has always been a quiet man. But he managed to say a lot in few words,” said IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell. “We are a lot better off for what Carl gave us, and his contributions to the union will carry on. I’ll miss him and wish him all the best in his retirement.”
“His desire, drive and tenacity will surely be missed by myself and this team as a whole. The selfish part of me is very disappointed that I am losing him and his knowledge as a Rep. but I more than understand the toll this assignment takes on a person, especially someone who pushes themselves as hard of Carl,” said Armstrong. “The realist in me understands this day was coming and I couldn’t be more happy and excited for him. I wish him and his family the best as things slows down and he begins this next chapter of his life. He will be missed!”
A Safe Climb Into the Future
I met Carl Lamers some 14 years ago when I was the Line Clearance Tree Trimming Business Representative in the Northern half of Local 1245’s jurisdiction. At that time, Carl was working as a Crew Foreman on the coast for Davey Tree.
Carl was essentially running the crews in his yard, and he would assist in arranging membership meetings either in Willits or Ukiah. I knew from our first meeting that Carl would be key in getting the members involved, and that effort would soon be sorely needed by Local 1245 and our Davey Tree members.
After our first couple of meetings, we learned that a non-union contractor, Family Tree Services, Inc., was going to displaced several of our Davey Tree crews, after decades of Davey Tree holding the coastal contract for Line Clearance Tree Trimming with PG&E. We held more and more membership meetings, and with Business Manager Tom Dalzell’s approval, Carl was hired as a Local 1245 organizer.
With Carl’s aid and persistence, Local 1245 organized Family Tree. Some of our members who were formerly Davey Tree employees now had the opportunity to work for Family Tree, and some exercised their bumping and bidding rights to maintain their employment with Davey Tree.
Following Carl’s successful work as a Local 1245 Organizer, he returned to work as a Davey Tree Crew Foreman in Ukiah. It wasn’t long until Local 1245 had the opportunity to hire Carl as a full-time Business Representative.
Over the next several years, Carl participated on 1245’s negotiating committee in several sets of general contract negotiations. Carl’s background as a Line Clearance Tree Trimmer, along with his tenacity, served Local 1245 well in negotiations.
During any out-of-town contract negotiations and Step 3 grievance meetings with various Line Clearance Tree Trimming companies, Carl and I would share a motel room. One thing that some may not know is that Carl is a reader. Once, after reading a book entitled Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar, by author Simon Sebag Montefiore, Carl gave me a play-by play ru down on what a bastard the Soviet Union dictator was to his own people. I would advise that you must wear hearing protection if you ever plan to share a motel room with Carl, as his snoring sounds like an XL-12 Homelite chainsaw.
While sharing a room, we would discuss various negotiating issues or grievance matters, and sometimes what was going on in one another’s lives. It was during these times that I learned of Carl’s past, in various employment capacities. But more importantly, I learned of his love for his family, and especially for his wife Jo. You also can’t discuss any of his current fishing or vacationing expeditions without hearing him speak of his grandson, his eyes beaming and his demeanor upbeat, happy and proud.
I’m going to miss Carl, and I wish him a long and happy retirement.
Carl, have a safe climb into the future, always keep a three-point hold and your taut-line hitch snug.
–Ray Thomas, IBEW 1245 Senior Assistant Business Manager