Merry Frickin’ Christmas

by jhwygirl

Smurfit-Stone closes. Saw it on the front page of the Montana Standard.

Not that it wasn’t elsewhere, or aptly covered locally – but it’s that big, that it’s front-page on the Butte paper.

417 families. 417 households. How many others that bought and sold into that mill?

Nothing to say that hasn’t been said. My deepest condolences. I know it. I’ve lived it. It’s a gut-punch, quite literally.

Then there’s Lee Newspapers, taking health care away from its retirees. Read it at the Indy’s blog.

People can preach the “pro-business” mantra all they want – and they can toss the “anti-business” epitaph all they want – but in the end – in the reality that is very apparent to Missoulians (and Missoulian retirees, for that matter) today – is that “business” will do with its workers what they please.

They’ll pay themselves $47 million bonuses, leave you out in the cold with 60-days pay.

Which is why workers should take no shame in wanting to extract 100% of their labor’s value from their employer.

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  1. Lizard

    i have good friends directly affected by this. 47 million?! sickening.

  2. This is sad, indeed. Another aspect that seems to be overlooked is the fact that Smurfit-Stone processed tons of recycled cardboard everyday.
    It’s a shame that this sustainable practice will also be lost.

    Is there any talk out there about it becoming an employee-owned enterprise?

  3. goofhoulihan

    You’d think if the mill made money, it would have been kept open. If it didn’t make money, can “employee owned” make it any more viable? It could if the company would recognize it’s capital losses and turn the facility over without too high a debt, and before it becomes just a giant industrial wasteland.

    But mostly, it’s the employees I am thinking about. You spend all of your working life working at a facility and it’s pulled out from under you, that’s a life endangering shock, depressing, drug and alcohol abuse encouraging, very much like a serious illness. There’s really nowhere to go with it, either. Federal “retraining” which was announced today on the TV, seemed like a joke.

    With 400 plus primary industry jobs, and several businesses whose primary customer is the mill, it’s a sure thing that the job losses aren’t over yet.

  4. Big Swede

    Look on the bright side.

    We’re shutting down logging and coal mines, the stimulus has yet to be spent, and they’re passing health care.

    Didn’t S-Stone kick out a lot of CO2?

    • Whoa, Swede, did you ever miss the boat with that last comment. Nobody is “shutting down logging,” — there’s a world-wide recession and demand is down, ergo mills close (just not enough profit to continue paying out those management bonuses).

      As for coal, I still see mile-long trains loaded with coal rumbling through Missoula. And it looks like (to my disgust) that the State Land Board is poised to open up the Otter Creek reserves.

      And passing health care!?! The bill coming out of the Senate is about as far removed from real reform as it could possibly be.

      • Big Swede

        http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/northwest_montana_logging_projects_challenged_over_bears/14257/

        http://forestpolicyresearch.org/2009/02/06/montana-lewis-clark-national-forest-responds-to-lawsuits-by-withdrawing-timber-sales/

        http://forestpolicyresearch.org/2009/02/02/montana-lawsuit-filed-to-stop-lonesome-wood-timber-sale-on-the-gallatin-nf/

        http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/darroch-eagle-timber-lawsuit.htm

        http://www.kpax.com/Global/story.asp?S=11170083&nav=menu562_2/Global/story.asp?S=6608221menu562_5_3

        Need I go on? I haven’t even linked any coal stuff.

        • petetalbot

          And I could list just as many links showing new forest restoration/fuel reduction projects. It ain’t the environmentalists that are killing the Montana forest products industry. It’s the recession, global competition and, dare I say, the boom-and-bust cycles associated with decades of unsustainable practices.

          • klemz

            This is one of those issues that I covered and, looking back, I can’t figure out why it was an issue at all.

            They can grow wood cheaper in the southeast–15 years in the soil and you cut it down like a row of corn. What’s so hard to understand about this?

            It’s terrible news for the Smurfit employees but an inevitable development. “Fuel management” is the welfare queen of the rural west.

        • Admin

          BS: Two national forests are visible from Smurfit Stone. The Lolo and the Bitterroot. The Lolo NF hasn’t had a timber sale lawsuit in over two years. The Bitterroot has had one timber sale lawsuit filed in the past seven years.

          Need I go on with these pesky facts?

          • Big Swede

            I guess I haven’t been clear, so I’ll try again.

            Your party supports these lawsuits. Given the chance you’d stop all natural resource development. You’d shut down drilling, mining, damming, power plants, and farming.

            So when a natural resource related business such as S-Stone closes it doors, regardless of the reason, out come the crocodile tears.

            Spare me the self righteousness.

          • “Spare me the self-righteousness”?

            “Your party”?

            “drilling, mining, damming, power plants, and farming”?

            Farming? You’ve got to be kidding me. Who’s self-righteousness?

            The only thing the resource industry has done from what I can see here in Montana is to come, extract, pollute, destroy and then abandon, leaving the bill to the taxpayers.

            I mean – Butte? Anaconda? You can see that damage from satellite photos. Stimson is probably scheming right now on restructuring such that they can minimize financial exposure conveniently for the DEQ clean-up site that is the former mill.

            Then there’s the old Champion site. Industry will shit over everything and then fight tooth and nail to avoid responsibility, seeking taxpayer welfare to clean up their mess.

            Talk to some of the counties where those guys have operated, and see what they have to say about how they left the forests they worked in. Those county commissioners to the east don’t have much nice to say.

            There’s good and there’s bad on every side, BS…but blanketing the whole democratic party as supporting these lawsuits you reference is wrong, and you know it.

  5. goofhoulihan

    BTW, Pete, that is an excellent point about the cardboard. How will this affect recycling in Montana, if there’s no buyer any more?

    • goof houlihan

      Evidently the mill used a lot of canadian cardboard and didn’t offer a competitive price for Montana’s recyclings. So it’s not likely to be missed from a recycling standpoint. At least, that’s what I heard second hand.

      “I don’t feel the necessity to provide links to my information, and I may not have personally observed that about which I post, relying instead on people whose statements I trust, which, in general, does include the post office and county row officers. I don’t sign my name with prejudice, teste meipso, and still use a zip code. I present this post for discussion purposes only. All others pay cash.”

      • petetalbot

        Goof, I believe you’re correct. I was out at Allied Waste’s recycling facility yesterday dropping off some stuff and asked what was going to happen with the cardboard since S-S had closed.

        “We send all our cardboard to the coast,” the guy said. “Only when we had more than we could handle did we send it to Smurfit-Stone.”

        Interesting, huh?

  6. Big Swede

    Looks like Max might be the grinch that stole Christmas.

    http://electriccityweblog.com/?p=7237#more-7237

  7. Matthew Koehler

    BS: I’ll leave for you the same comment/question I left for Mr. Mead (former Denny staffer) at his blog, which first went into the issue you bring up (http://www.tenmilestonowhere.com/?p=264).

    Please explain to us why it was good public policy to have US taxpayers fork over $10 billion in taxpayer money to the US Pulp and Paper Industry so they could burn through an extra 20 billion gallons of diesel fuel exploiting this loophole in the 2005 transportation bill?

    Specifically, Smurfit-Stone (while in bankruptcy, no less) was handed $543 million dollars from taxpayers to burn through an extra 1 billion gallons of diesel fuel so they could pump out packaging products with little demand in the market place.

    Again, how is that good public policy or a good use of limited taxpayer funds? Thanks.

    P.S. More info on this topic is at the two posts below. And that “Admin” comment above is from me also…just to be clear. Thanks.

    See:
    http://cleangreensustainable.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/pulp-paper-industrys-boondoggle-could-cost-taxpayers-10-billion

    and

    http://cleangreensustainable.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/more-on-pulp-industrys-billion-dollar-taxpayer-boondoggle/




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