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The Final Word by Rory Ryan
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Not long ago, Jim Thompson referenced the so-called Affordable Health Care Act – so warmly embraced by the current President of the United States as “ObamaCare.”

While Mr. Thompson’s “Final Word” mentioned the AHCA’s negative impact on small business, let’s not lose focus that Big Business must adjust to this changing – and costly – dynamic as well.

That said, what impacts one business often impacts its counterparts, regardless of size.

International Paper Company’s Courtland, Alabama (USA) paper mill complex has an estimated annual payroll of $86 million, and is the largest employer in rural Lawrence Country, Alabama.

Last week, Global Director of Media Relations Tom Ryan (no relation) said employees of International Paper's Courtland mill received a 9-11 call (on Wednesday, Sept. 11) about the plant's pending closure.

(See the story by Lucy Berry here).

One of the telling comments related to IP’s announcement came from Mr. Johnny Phillips, president of a United Steelworkers Union local which represents approximately 250 maintenance workers at the Courtland mill.


According to Ms. Berry’s report, Mr. Phillips said: “We knew that (production) capacity was going to come off the market, but we never dreamed it would be us.”

No one ever does.

(Mr. Thompson's mantra of “spinning the invoice printer” continues to prove its relevance, by the way.)

Regardless of the myriad reasons for International Paper’s decision – and, yes, one may point to possible related factors such as ObamaCare, higher business expenses, market decline, etc. – one thing is clear: IP is not leaving Courtland, Alabama because it’s making too much money there.

Perhaps earlier concessions could have been made in order to keep the region’s largest employer. Perhaps concessions were offered and rejected. Perhaps not.

The Final Word is this: The economic prosperity of Courtland, Alabama will assuredly suffer the consequences in much the same manner that Wilmington, Ohio suffered similar consequences due to the 2008 announcement by Deutsche Post that DHL was departing, along with its 9,500 jobs in southern Ohio.

Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk at Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at rory.ryan@taii.com.



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