By Glenda Thompson
Pulp and Paperworkers' Resource Council
The Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC) is made up of paper mill workers from all over the United States. We hold various jobs - union and non-union - throughout our mills and in rural and urban communities across the country. And, this week during our Washington annual fly-in, we look forward to bringing our industry’s top issues and concerns to Congress and other key decision makers.
We are proud of our teamwork over the past 25-plus years since PPRC was founded in response to a Pacific Northwest logging shutdown stemming from ill-informed government policy. Many of our colleagues lost their jobs and forest product facilities were shut down. Rather than sit on the sidelines, pulp and paper workers came together to educate and advocate on the issues that affect our very livelihood. We’re eager for that opportunity again.
PPRC members know that many times our representatives in Washington don’t know the full ramifications of their decisions. We understand how overzealous regulation and legislation can destroy businesses, communities, and lives. We all believe that environmental regulations are necessary. We live and recreate in the areas around our mills. We want clean air and water. We also want common sense regulation, not knee-jerk reactions that are overreaching and burdensome to the point that it is no longer economically feasible for a company to continue to do business.
We’ve all heard about the recent tax breaks given to companies across the country. With the stroke of a pen in Washington, a single piece of legislation or regulation could nullify those benefits. It could cost our companies billions in upgrades and retrofits that businesses in many cases have found so cumbersome that they had to make the job-ending decision to close.
In many cases, our mills are the primary employers in our towns. Paper mills have good, family-wage jobs that afford us the opportunity to raise our children and send them to college. We have seen first-hand the devastation that follows when a mill is shutdown.
As the saying goes, “If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” That’s why we are here. Many of our families have been working at our mills for generations. We come to Washington to try to make sure our mills and the good jobs they provide are here for our families and communities for generations to come.