To former paper mill employees: ‘Be fearless and shine’

Published 8:09 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As you know, only a few weeks are left before International Paper will be history.

Shortly after the first layoff notification, I felt the need to let those employees know how the public felt about their hurts and concerns.

In the early morning hours in November, I got up and wrote what I thought would give comfort to the majority that would be leaving shortly and throughout the slow demise of I.P.

I still have strong feelings that those dedicated men and women, especially those who worked at Union Camp/International Paper for many, many years, need to know that “Joe Q. Public” really cares about their welfare.

I hear comments as to why and what those employees are saying and reacting and I see tears from many. I feel strongly that they need to know we stand behind and beside them.

The Union Camp/International Paper Family

Please stop for a minute, let me speak to you.

Oct. 22,2009, brought despair that was not due.

The “rumor mill” quit churning while the facts were very clear.

International Paper would be closing by Spring of next year!

Where once there was laughter and horseplay

A frown now creased each brow.

Whether audibly spoken or just a thought

Each wondered, “What will I do now?”

Upper management, supervisors, foremen,

The hourly workers…you all became the same —

The Union Camp/I.P. family

And you certainly are not to blame!

Your work has exceeded expectations;

New records put Franklin on the map.

People are choosey in wanting

Their paper to be “International” wrapped.

On a more personal level, just remember

Decades some have spent in this workplace.

As young men and women, you came here.

You tirelessly kept up the pace.

If you are one of the first to go

As they slowly reduce the work force.

Don’t feel alone, you’re a step ahead,

Starting down life’s next course.

Just square your shoulders, hold your head up high,

Take pride in the work you have done.

Never lose hope, shake the hand of your friends.

God will take care of you…everyone.

Note: I never worked directly at Union Camp

But my husband did for many years.

My sons worked at U.C. and now I.P.

And with them I’ve shed my tears.

Its not pity I feel, just much concern.

“The Paper Family” I feel is mine.

Wherever life takes you-retirement or work,

Go forth, be fearless and shine.