Online ad not for IP mill

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FRANKLIN—A Boston company that posted an online advertisement for “experienced pulp and paper mill employees for a potential labor dispute” is not looking to hire them for use at the International Paper Co. mill in Franklin.

The ad, which was posted Friday and appears on the job search Web site, was placed by MADI Corp. The company

provides temporary replacement workers and security during strikes.

Manny Marshall, who is listed online as the director of operations for MADI, said that he is looking to hire 200 workers.

“I’m looking to hire just about any position within a pulp and paper mill,” Marshall said. “In the event of a union voting to strike, I need to be prepared to send people to run that mill until the strike is over.”

Asked about the Franklin ad, Marshall said, “I put an ad in because I know there are a lot of qualified people in that area who are out of a job. And if I can put them to work, I want to do that.”

Marshall emphasized that the ad was not for the IP mill in Franklin.

“It has nothing to do with IP, nor does it have anything to do with Virginia or any location in Virginia,” Marshall said Monday. “I’ve had a lot of calls from IP and Franklin, Virginia, this morning. I guess they’re pretty worried because of the ad being up in the area, thinking it’s their jobs. It’s not. It’s nothing like that at all.”

Marshall said he is not permitted to reveal the name of the company that might need the replacement workers or the state where the mill was located.

“I can’t tell you because I have a confidentiality clause with my client,” Marshall said. “I can tell you that it could be anywhere in country.”

Franklin Mill Communications Manager Desmond Stills indicated the ad caught IP officials by surprise, and they had fielded numerous questions about it from workers at the mill on Monday.

“It has come to our attention that an advertisement was recently posted on that has led some people to believe that the Franklin Mill will soon hire personnel to run our mill,” Stills said in a written statement Monday. “Our investigation has revealed that the intent of the advertisement was to attract the talented employees from our mill for possible hiring for another company, not to attract talent to work at our mill.”

Stills added, “As we have stated previously, the closure of our facility and its associated operations is permanent. Any potential future uses of our site that includes paper production in our view would be unsustainable and will not be considered. International Paper had no prior knowledge of the ad, and we regret that it may have created confusion among our employees and the Franklin community.”

Carroll Story, president of Local 1488 of the United Steelworkers of America, said union members were concerned about the ad when it first came to light.

“It kind of got everybody in an uproar over here,” Story said Tuesday. “I think it was posted maybe Friday night, and a few people saw it on Saturday. I started receiving phone calls on Saturday, and then on Sunday all three of the union presidents started getting a lot of phone calls.”

Three unions represent workers at the IP mill: Local 1488, Local 505 of the USW and Chapter 176 of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers District of Local 32BJ/SEIU.

“They’re trying to build a replacement workforce for several companies that are in negotiations,” Story said of MADI. “They went to states where they knew mills have shut down and they’re trying to build a workforce to make it marketable to a mill that’s in negotiations.”

Story said he didn’t know what companies might use a replacement workforce, but said USW locals were currently in negotiations with Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. and MeadWestvaco Corp. for mills at West Point and Covington, respectively.

According to its ad, MADI is “looking to hire personnel with experience in all aspects of (pulp) and paper making,” for a period of up to 45 days. The ad said hired workers would be paid between $18 and $23 an hour and would be guaranteed a minimum of 60 hours per week, but 84 hours were expected.

The ad also said workers would be paid $40 a day for travel and lodging expenses, lending to Story’s theory that the replacement workforce MADI is looking to build could potentially be deployed anywhere.

MADI posted similar ads on Friday in Bastrop, La., Green Bay, Wis. and Frenchtown, Mt., and three weeks ago in Ontonagon, Mich. and Neenah, Wis. All five communities are home to shuttered paper mills, with IP having closed the Bastrop plant and Smurfit-Stone having shut down facilities in Frenchtown and Ontonagon.