Lawmaker cites Georgia-Pacific announcement of upcoming job cuts as example
Rep. Liz Pike
CAMAS — Georgia-Pacific announced Tuesday it will cut as many as 300 jobs at its Camas mill in the second quarter of 2018 and permanently shut down local production of paper used in printers and copiers, as well as pulping operations and some related equipment. It will continue tissue manufacturing operations, keeping about 140 jobs at the Camas mill which has operated since 1885 and employed as many as 2,400 people in the 1980s.
Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, was contacted by a Georgia-Pacific representative, who informed her of the pending closure and local job loss. Pike issued the following statement today:
“This is a sad day for Camas and southwest Washington,’’ Pike said. “The paper mill is what built Camas. For generations, the mill has provided a steady paycheck for mortgage payments, car payments, putting food on the table, raising children and creating a stable economy for a better life in our region. Many of my friends, including my brother, have built their careers working at the Camas mill. This is very personal for me, my neighbors and local businesses — many who have relied upon the income which has flowed through our community from the mill.
“I’m very proud in recent years that Georgia-Pacific has invested in the Camas mill to ensure it exceeds environmental standards,’’ Pike added. “They’ve spent tens of millions of dollars to create clean emissions and a clean plant. As a result, Camas has become a very desirable place to live and Georgia-Pacific has been a very good neighbor and employer.
“However, this closure should serve as a wake-up call to our elected leaders that we must work harder to foster job-retention and development in Washington state or we’re going to lose more manufacturers and the family-wage jobs they create,’’ PIke said. “Georgia-Pacific has recognized that with the additional water and air standards foisted upon them from Olympia, and the possibility of new carbon taxes and more regulations, its future is limited in our state. The sad reality is that it’s more economical for GP to expand existing operations in Louisiana where the business climate is more favorable, than to fight a losing battle here in Washington state.
“Over the years, extreme environmental regulations along Washington’s coast decimated the timber industry. We’ve nearly lost Boeing. Alcoa has shuddered its Wenatchee aluminum plant and reduced its Ferndale operations. Amazon is looking elsewhere for another headquarters. And now my community will have to find ways to move forward without hundreds of mill jobs. When will we finally understand that the more roadblocks handed down from Olympia, the more manufacturers and other employers will vote with their feet? It’s time our state leaders recognize this latest canary in the coal mine and begin working to keep jobs in Washington, rather than incentivizing our employers to seek greener pastures.”
Rep. Liz PIke is a Camas resident and a member of the Washington State House of Representatives, representing the 18th District.