PITTSBURGH, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers Union (USW) greeted today's announcement from Wausau Paper about the potential purchase of Wausau's Mosinee and Rhinelander mills and other non-disclosed assets with interest and cautious optimism.
Wausau signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to sell its specialty paper business to a new company that will be formed and controlled by investment funds sponsored by KPS Capital Partners L.P. KPS also signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to acquire a second company to establish a new specialty paper business.
This new company will acquire the assets of Wausau's Rhinelander and Mosinee mills provided it acquires the second company. USW Locals 01778 and 2-15 represent workers at the Rhinelander mill. USW Locals 2-221 and 2-316 represent workers at the Mosinee mill.
The transaction requires that the USW ratify new collective bargaining agreements with the new company.
"The specialty sector of the paper industry has lagged other sectors in terms of strategic consolidation, and deserves a renewed focus," said USW International Vice President Jon Geenen, who oversees the USW's paper sector, of the announcement. "The sector produces paper for many stable markets today, and given the right attention is poised to capture even more opportunity in advanced and evolving technical markets."
The Mosinee and Rhinelander mills have highly skilled workforces that employ modern work systems. These mills have provided decent jobs for generations of workers.
"We are anxious to engage in a discussion that will position the new company and its employees for long-term success and operational viability. We have had a long-term relationship with KPS, and have successfully worked with the company on numerous acquisitions that have resulted in the creation of thriving businesses. We appreciate KPS's constructive approach to doing business," Geenen added.
USW District 2 Director Michael Bolton said: "Wisconsin's paper industry and its skilled workers have been the centerpiece of Wisconsin's economy. It is encouraging to see renewed interest and investment in the kind of advanced manufacturing facilities that the Rhinelander and Mosinee mills represent."
"Our members are committed to the ongoing success of these plants. In many cases we are third and fourth generation paper workers. We know the potential of these plants and look forward to showing that to KPS," said Local 2-15 President Dennis Meyer.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. The union represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, atomic energy and the service sector.
Contact: Lynne Hancock, USW, 615-828-6169, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)