Letter to the Editor

Sell the International Paper plant to its employees

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To the Editor,

It is a huge shame to see the International Paper Mill go. I pass by it about once every three months and stop in Franklin to shop and have a meal. It is a wonderful town, a town that does not deserve this to happen to it.

International Paper’s board of directors is far, far removed from the dedicated, hard-working folks in their mills. Every one of their employees, from the janitor to the log-crane operator, tried to make their operation the best.

The investors probably do not even know where Franklin is. They probably have no concept of the pain that the town is going through, or of the hardship that every family in Southampton County will soon face. They will notice an uptick in the share price of their stock and be happy. It was, after all, a business decision.

Well, how about selling the plant, giving the employees a chance to run it, or using some of Obama’a handout money to keep it going? When I hear about how much it costs to save the job of one GM worker, and then see that we are throwing out 1,100 folks at IP, I wonder where our priorities are.

If the government gave the workers a loan to run the mill, it would be cheaper than finding them new jobs. If the workers ran the plant, they would probably run it better than IP ever did. Some folks at the plant have over 41 years experience. Does that not count for anything?

I didn’t see Deeds or McDonnell petitioning the Obama Administration about this during their campaigns. I didn’t see them even taking steps to have Virginia save the plant or train the management in marketing of uncoated freesheet on the world market.

When in our history were politicians and investors so far removed from the people? When did we see people tossed aside like this?

Roger Kirby
Savannah, Ga.

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