You asked: IP mill workers are represented by United Steelworkers union

Published 9:44 am Saturday, July 14, 2012

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You asked: Are the employees unionized at the repurposed International Paper Franklin mill?

FRANKLIN—International Paper, which restarted operations last week to produce fluff pulp, continues to recognize Local 1488 of the United Steelworkers union, said mill spokeswoman Julie Brennan.

As of Friday, 100 percent of the workers at the Franklin mill were members of the union, said local President Carroll Story. Employees in production, manufacturing and maintenance positions are working under an 18-month contract that expires at the end of 2013.

“We went right up and said we wanted the union,” Story said about IP’s decision to reopen the mill. “We’ve always had a great relationship between IP and USW. We were in favor of organizing and going forward.”

The union was part of IP in Franklin when the mill closed in June 2010, eliminating 1,100 jobs. The mill was repurposed at a cost of $90 million to produce fluff pulp, which is used for making diapers, and 200 were hired.

Although details of the contract could not be discussed, it was reported earlier that conditions would be comparable to the conditions employees worked under previously.

IP and United Steelworkers have had a longstanding relationship, Brennan said.

Story agreed, noting the current agreement is a startup contract.

“Once that goes, when we are at the end of that contract, we will bargain for a new agreement,” he said.

Story noted that IP workers were once represented by three unions.