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Mill Workers To Get Helping Hand

Photo: Julia Ritchey / Carolina Public Press

Those who lost their jobs after the sudden shuttering of a Canton paper mill are getting a helping hand. During a Friday, March 10th press conference town officials gathered at Haywood Community College and promised aid for more than 1,000 workers left jobless after the closing of the mill, that has been the economic center of the community for 125 years. Officials said, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as unemployment is at historic lows and manufacturing and other industries are hiring. The plant will shut it’s doors this summer, according to the announcement.

Meanwhile, Illinois-based Pactiv-Evergreen, which cited a company wide restructuring for the mill’s closing, faced criticism for deciding to pay dividends to the shareholders while announcing the layoff of 1,200 Western North Carolina workers. In addition, four top Pactiv officials drew allegations of insider trading after selling more than $600,000 in stock three days before the layoff announcement and the tanking of the company’s shares.

The impact of the Canton mill shutdown, which stretches outside Haywood County into Buncombe County, could have a health ripple effect. Local United Steel Workers Union President Troy Dills pointed to environmental and safety concerns, saying shutting down a paper mill requires a special process, adding that the 150-acre campus has got all sorts of chemicals.

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