PaperAge Magazine

Proud to Share Forest Product Industry Story on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

Capitol Hill - Washington, DC

AF&PA Guest Blog by Rodney Rowser, M1 Stock Prep Operator, WestRock Pulp and Paperboad Mill, Demopolis, Alabama; Member, Pulp and Paperworkers' Resource Council

Jan. 29, 2019 - In the words of the JCPenney department store founder James Cash Penney, “Growth is never by mere chance: it is the result of forces working together.”

The same teamwork holds true for the Pulp and Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC) — the national grassroots labor organization that represents workers in the forest products industry. And, it's why, as a PPRC member, I'm proud to be traveling from Demopolis, Alabama where I have worked for 27 years at the WestRock Company Paper Mill to Capitol Hill for PPRC's annual Fly-In from Feb. 5 - 7.

The PPRC's main objective is to serve as an advocate for the nearly one million industry employees in six regions across the United States. During the Fly-In, we look forward to giving labor a voice on matters that could adversely impact the dedicated workforce we represent.

It's a pivotal time not only for the council but for the workforce back home who trust us to represent them. We'll be meeting with Members of Congress and key decision makers to educate them about how certain environmental and regulatory decisions could directly impact our communities and families.

Considering the fact that we are raising our children in these rural and urban areas, we are dedicated to the conservation of the environment. We also maintain that fair and reasonable regulations can be attained without putting unnecessary stress on our manufacturing workers and surrounding communities.

Just as council members did when the PPRC was founded in 1991 in response to the closing of a Pacific Northwest Mill — a move which drastically affected the livelihood of many families and their communities — we will share our current concerns.

Many small towns depend on the revenue generated by mills for survival and growth. The impact of a mill closing in a small rural area like Demopolis, Alabama could prove to be detrimental to families, businesses, and schools due to a high number of job losses.

We will work together just like James Cash Penney did and advocate for our jobs and families on Capitol Hill. That teamwork will help support our industry's ability to help grow the economy and create American manufacturing jobs. I couldn't be happier to be a player.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry's sustainability initiative — Better Practices, Better Planet 2020.

The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures approximately $300 billion in products annually, and employs nearly 950,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $55 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.