IP offers voluntary severance pay to hourly workers

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A week after announcing the shutdown of one of its production machines, International Paper Co. said today it will offer voluntary severance packages to all hourly employees at the Franklin mill.

The company said last week that it would shut down the mill’s No. 3 uncoated freesheet machine, which makes envelope paper, on Nov. 23. The shutdown will affect 50 of the 1,200 jobs at the mill.

The severance package is being offered to the mill’s thousand-plus hourly employees.

“Our main concern is for our employees and their families,” Jeannine Siembida, the mill’s manager, said in a written statement. “To ease the transition as we shut down our No. 3 paper machine, we have agreed with the union to offer voluntary severance packages to employees. The agreement is an effort to identify employees who wish to pursue other career options while retaining employees who wish to remain employed with International Paper.”

Desmond Stills, the mill’s communications manager, said the deadline for applying for the severance package is Dec. 8. Interested employees must submit their paperwork submitted to the mill’s human resources office by that date, Stills said.

Company officials said the permanent shutdown of the No. 3 machine will reduce the company’s annual paper production capacity by approximately 150,000 tons, or 16 percent, to 750,000 tons. The shutdown was due to a decline in demand, officials said.