COURTLAND, Ala. (WHNT) – We have a Taking Action report, a follow-up to a story we first told you about Tuesday night. Members of the Lawrence County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday to acknowledge the International Paper mill at Courtland.
The mill is in the process of shutting down, and the commission’s intent was to acknowledge the many contributions the company has made in the area during more than three decades. But it didn’t work out the way they intended.
Two members of the commission later told us International Paper has outsourced the work of employees who have just recently been laid off. WHNT News 19 is taking action in an effort to get answers to some tough questions.
Originally the resolution acknowledging International Paper passed with one commissioner abstaining. But after a 5 minute recess, there was another vote, and the resolution failed on a 2-to-2 tie vote.
“There was a few people out in the audience that talked to me during the break that said their job had been cut and the same job they were doing is still being done with outside contractors,” Lawrence County Commissioner Prentis Davis told WHNT News 19.
Davis changed his vote second time around saying as a union man he couldn’t support the proposal. Both Davis and another member of the commission told us the Courtland mill is currently receiving more paper than its shipping out, leaving them to wonder if the facility may eventually become a distribution site.
“It’s something odd going on. Hopefully it will bring more jobs to the county, whatever they do.”
We took those questions to the company and received the following statement from Mill Manager Mary Hunting. She says, “Following the shutdown of the paper machines, certain equipment continues to operate at the Courtland Mill as needed to support the transition of products and customer services to other locations. This work is being handled by approximately 200 Courtland Mill employees that will remain onsite for a period of time until the business determines the needs of the customers have been fullfilled during this transition. There are no plans for the Courtland Mill to serve as a distribution center.”
The company did not address the question about outside contractors. Meanwhile other members of the commission say want to convey a positive message in hopes of attracting other industry to the area.
In a previous statement, an International Paper spokesperson told us the company was focused on the shut-down at Courtland and assisting employees to find new jobs. After that, the company says, they will address questions from the community and the news media.