Sunday, February 11, 2001

Mill cutting hundreds of jobs

Others face big pay cuts, councilman says

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Two hundred workers at the former International Paper mill are losing their jobs; the remaining 600 are taking big pay cuts, City Councilman Richard Holzberger said Saturday after talking to workers.

        The 107-year-old mill's second new owner in less than a year, Smart Papers LLC, has been delivering the news to employees in meetings at the Hamiltonian Hotel. The meetings, which began after the plant was idled Friday, continue today; the plant should resume operation Wednesday, Mr. Holzberger said.

        The Enquirer was unable to obtain comment from Smart Papers officials, union representatives or workers Saturday evening.

        Mr. Holzberger said the news means another blow to the city's general fund, which has been struggling from lost tax revenue after hundreds of jobs left the city last year.

        Ohio Casualty has relocated 800 jobs from Hamilton since 1999. International Paper Co., which purchased the former Champion International Corp. in June, announced plans to close the company's Knightsbridge complex and eliminate 350 jobs, but kept the B Street mill open. Smart Paper purchased the mill earlier this year.

        The new job losses and pay cuts mean “more turmoil for Hamilton,” Mr. Holzberger said.

        “I feel very bad for those who lost their jobs or got a pay reduction, but at least they're keeping over 75 percent of the work forces,” he said. “If the mill had closed entirely, it would have been catastrophic.”

        The mill's workers, whose hourly wages could reach $20, were being offered jobs with cuts of $5 to $8 per hour, Mr. Holzberger said. The new job offers also included reduced vacation time and other benefits, he said.

        The new owners “are telling the employees they want to make this plant run, they want to make it go, they want to turn a profit,” Mr. Holzberger said.


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