Ferrum College is proud to announce that Associate
Professor of Library Science George Loveland has been awarded the
prestigious Harry Caudill Award. His book, Under the Workers' Caps:
From Champion Mill to Blue Ridge Paper, was unanimously selected
by three judges for the award, issued by
Bookworm & Silverfish Bookstore
in Rural Retreat, Virginia.
Loveland's book "addresses crucial issues
of pollution and workers' rights. It really is an in-depth investigation
which is gutsy and pretty unflinching in its look at pretty much everyone
involved," said George Brosi, editor of Appalachian Heritage.
The Caudill award of $2000 in books from
inventory is made by Bookworm & Silverfish in Rural Retreat, Virginia,
and is awarded every two years. The award was created in April of 2000
to recognize outstanding investigative writing about Appalachian issues
similar to Harry Caudill's Night Comes to the Cumberlands:
hard-hitting, "against the grain" journalism or other published
writing, according to Jim Presgraves, owner of the bookstore and award
sponsor. Caudill, an eastern Kentucky attorney and author, was well
respected in both fields. "As a bookseller," said Presgraves, "I hope
to recognize this type of writing."
Under the Workers' Caps is a true story
set in Western North Carolina in the factory town of Canton. The story
is told through the perspective of six men who organized, and through
the union, were able to buy a paper mill factory. The mills, formerly
operated by Champion International Corporation, are now known as Blue
Ridge Paper Products, Inc. They employ about 2,500 people. It was considered
one of the top ten employee-led buyouts in U.S. history.
"It truly is a David and Goliath story,”
says Loveland; "it's a story where these men didn't have the degree
to back them up, and were told they couldn't do it, but they pulled
Loveland hopes this book can serve as an inspiration
to others, lessons for entire communities about what you can do when
others seem to have control of your economic destiny.
"It can be one model that people can turn
to and consider when economic resources are threatening to shut down
From Ferrum College press release
March 7, 2007
Overview of Book
University of Tennessee Press, 2006
Lost in the
stock market bubble of the 1990s was the dissolution of American
manufacturing culture. With the advent of NAFTA and free trade, countless
jobs were shipped overseas where labor was plentiful and wages were cheap.
Hardest hit were the workers in America’s small towns and rural areas.
Under the Workers’ Caps: From Champion Mill to Blue Ridge Paper tells
the story of one particular group of workers in the mountains of southern
In 1997, Champion International Paper, an industrial presence in North
Carolina’s Haywood County since 1908, put its paper mills in Canton and
Waynesville up for sale. For the employees of Champion, this meant the
prospect of an immediate loss of their incomes, livelihood, and way of life.
Six men, however, refused to take their fate lying down.
They did the unthinkable to save their jobs: they bought the company.
Under the Workers’ Caps chronicles how these employees of Champion
Paper successfully and audaciously engineered the purchase of the company
and turned the mills into a worker-owned business. Although they lacked
formal training in business, the six men artfully forged an alliance with
environmental groups, financial powerhouses, and county and state
governments to reach their goal.
George W. Loveland not only gives an in-depth overview of the fight to save
the mill jobs, he also offers the reader a thorough understanding of the
depth of Champion’s involvement in the economy and community life of western
North Carolina. Long perceived as a beneficent employer, the company had a
mainly positive relationship with its workers, who in turn considered
themselves proud to be employees of Champion. The author makes clear the
devastating impact that the closing of the mill would have had on the
Under the Workers’ Caps recounts the story from the workers’
perspective, with an appealing frankness about their struggles, triumphs,
and fears. Perhaps most important, it reveals that, in the often disruptive,
rapidly changing international economy of the twenty-first century, workers
themselves are perhaps the most suitable caretakers of the
company that employs them.
This book will appeal to anyone interested in Appalachian economic
development and the future of the region.
George W. Loveland is associate professor and head of Library Public
Services at Ferrum College. He has contributed articles to the Journal of
Research in Rural Education, Journal of Appalachian Studies, and
Greater Fairness: May Justus as Popular Educator"
– article by George
Loveland reprinted in AppLit