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Latest News - August 2011

August 26, 2011
Paper mill closes after more 
than 100 years in Franklin
Source: Middletown Journal
By: Ted Cox

FRANKLIN — It was a rough day as more than 50 workers finished their last shift Friday at the Franklin Boxboard Corp. and said goodbye as the paper mill shut its doors to them for good.

“It’s pitiful,” said Rick Waddell, a Franklin resident who has worked at the mill for almost 21 years. “A lot of these guys have been here 40-plus years. They’re taking it hard.”

The mill’s corporate owner in New Jersey, The Newark Group Inc., announced July 1 that it would close the operation and end 81 hourly and salaried jobs. Franklin Boxboard stopped producing its recycled paperboard last weekend, and workers spent this week cleaning up and taking items apart, unsure until Friday morning when exactly their last hour — which turned out to be noon - would be.

“It’s always tough knowing that you’re in here cleaning up and doing stuff to ultimately lose your job,” said Brad Cottrell, a Carlisle resident who had put in 15 years at the mill and rose to the top machine tender. “But in a way there is a sigh of relief knowing you can now move on with your life.”

Many workers had already moved on, finding other jobs, retiring or taking their remaining vacation time.

But the memories will remain. The mill at 50 E. Sixth St. has been in Franklin more than 100 years.

“People really like this place,” said Mat Adams, who has been at the mill for two years. His father and grandfather also worked at the mill.

Anthony McClelland, another who worked with his father at the mill, was surprised the mill closed. “We were actually hiring (before this summer). Nobody was getting laid off,” he said.

But there were signs, other say. The company started cutting back overtime, which was abundant in past years for an operation that ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“When they didn’t try to fight anything on our last contract (signed in October), we knew something was up,” said Waddell, who also is president of the United Steelworkers Local 1-00055 that represents 63 employees at the mill. “The one before that was the one that hurt us real bad. They took our time-and-a-half away and double-time on Sunday away. They said doing that would keep the mill open. Doing that kept the mill open two years.”

A few workers will remain at the mill next week to secure the building. Some of the equipment will be sold, said David Ascher, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Newark Group.

“We don’t have any current plans to demolish the building,” he added. “We’re looking to probably sell the property in some fashion.”



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