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George Loveland's Book Under the Workers' Caps Wins 2007 Harry Caudill Award


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 it off."

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 your community."

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 Appalachia.

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 region’s economy.

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 Virginia Libraries.



"
A Greater Fairness: May Justus as Popular Educator" article by George Loveland reprinted
in AppLit

Receiving award of books at Bookworm & Silverfish Bookstore

(photos above by Tina L. Hanlon)

Loveland receives 2007 Cheatham Fellowship from President Braaten and Dean Lambert at Ferrum College Commencement
(See article by Lana A. Whited and photo in PROFESS 2007.)

This page created 4/25/08

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