International Paper, Lawrence Co.'s largest employer, closing Courtland mill

International Paper's Courtland mill (Source: International Paper)
International Paper's Courtland mill (Source: International Paper)

COURTLAND, AL (WAFF) - International Paper, one of Lawrence County's biggest employers, announced plans to permanently close its Courtland mill.

The facility is part of the company's Printing and Communications Paper Business. The mill will shut down in stages with a full closure expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

International Paper said 1,100 employees will be impacted by the closure. They said the company will work closely with union officials concerning benefits and other assistance programs for hourly employees.

"In the next couple of weeks we're going to enter bargaining with the company, and we're going to do the best we can for our membership," said Ben Sneed, President of USW Local 1161. Sneed said that will include any extension of health care and severance packages.

Salaried employees impacted by these machine shutdowns will be eligible for severance packages and outplacement assistance consistent with company policy.

"We explored numerous business and re-purposing options for the Courtland Mill, but concluded that permanently closing the mill best positions the business for the future," said Printing and Communications Papers Senior Vice-President Tim Nicholls.

Governor Robert Bentley released the following statement on the plant's closure.

I am directing the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to provide rapid response services for those who are losing their jobs.  As part of these services, displaced workers will be eligible for career retraining dollars, and ADECA will connect those employees with available assistance.  ADECA's Workforce Development Division will also send a Rapid Response Team to Lawrence County in the near future.  The team will meet with workers and discuss with them a wide variety of options to help them during this difficult time.  We will also continue to work on the state level to attract more jobs to Alabama.  We've announced more than 40,000 new jobs over the last two-and-a-half years, and our job creation efforts will continue until everyone who needs a job is able to find one.  I am 100% committed to helping people go back to work.

The mill was first run by the Champion company in 1970. International Paper took over in 2000.

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