Former IP workers to reunite on anniversary

Published 9:27 am Friday, May 6, 2011

FRANKLIN—Former International Paper employee Wesley Dorsey has learned all about rejection — since losing his job at the mill’s sheet plant one year ago, he’s been turned down for more than 100 jobs.

Yet, one year to the day that Dorsey passed through the Franklin mill’s gates for the last time he plans to “celebrate.”

The 50-year-old from Gates, N.C., is organizing a reunion for former sheet plant employees and retirees on Saturday, May 14.

The date marks the anniversary of when the largest group of IP employees — 212 out of 1,100 — were laid off during the ongoing closing of the plant.

The reunion will be held 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bronco Club, which donated the use of its facility, Dorsey said. He expects 250 to 300 people.

One will be Mike Jackson, who lost his job in IP’s sheet plant after 31 years, yet looks forward to the reunion.

“When you work with people for years, everyone is like a family,” Jackson said. “You spend more time with the guys than your own family. I’m sure a lot of people think the same way.”

Since leaving IP on May 28, Jackson enrolled full time at Paul D. Camp Community College, where he’s working on an associate degree in education. He’d like to either become a teaching assistant or pursue his bachelor’s in education.

It’s been a tough year.

“At the beginning, even though it wasn’t our fault, you feel like you let down your family,” Jackson said.

He noted his wife, Debbie, has been great support; she is a nursing supervisor at Southampton Memorial Hospital.

“The toughest part was not having somewhere to go every day,” Dorsey said about losing his job of 21 years.

He went through something similar in 1988, after losing his job with Brown Jordan Furniture in Suffolk.

“They moved to Mexico,” Dorsey said. “Twice I’ve lost jobs to foreign markets.”

“School has helped out,” he added.

Dorsey is studying welding, electricity, plumbing, and heating, air conditioning and ventilation at Southside Community College in Emporia.