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Pulp mill adopts team approach.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. announced a 5-year, $200 million modernization plan for its pulp and newsprint mill in Coosa Pines, AL, after members of three unions agreed to contract changes intended to reduce labor costs. The changes, to be worked out by a joint committee, are revisions in work rules and ad >;option of a team approach under which employees would work interchangeably within small groups and participate in determining production methods and standards. The cost-saving changes include permitting operators to make routine inspections and adjustments of their machines, rather than waiting for a skilled trades employee, and permitting skilled trades employees to assist in maintenance work outside their current duties.

Company officials said the cooperative approach was a vital aspect of its plan to >;enable the

40-year-old mill to compete with several new mills expected to be completed by other companies by 1992.

The agreement stipulates that no employees on the payroll on April 27, 1988, will be laid off, but the company did indicate that it hoped to cut about 250 jobs-160 through new early retirement inducements and 90 through attrition.

The settlement, which extends the expiration date of the existing contract by 3 years, to

September 15, 1992, also provides for lump-sum payments of $500 to em >;ployees on the payroll on

October 1, 1988, and $750 to those on the payroll on September 15, 1989, and wage increases of 25 cents an hour on January 1, 1989, 2.5 percent on September 15, 1990, and 2 percent on September 15, 1991. In addition, employees affected by changes in methods and procedures will receive, by June 1, 1989, pay adjustments from an allocation equal to an expected 20 cents an hour when averaged over all employees. Skilled trades workers will receive an additional 50-cent-an-hour increas >;e on June 1, 1989, in return for the broadening of their duties. An official of one the unions, the United Paperworkers, said that prior to the increases, his members were paid $10 to $22 an hour, and some earned as much as $70,000 a year, with overtime.

The two other unions involved in the settlement were the Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. With the United Paperworkers, the three unions represent 1,300 of the plant's 1,800 employees.
COPYRIGHT 1989 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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