News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Wolverine had positive impact on lives of many

To The Daily: It was with great sadness that I read that Wolverine Tube will shut down after nearly 60 years. (Wolverine, RIP; Decatur Move on, Nov. 8). Any shutdown is traumatic and I certainly understand the anger that many current employees have regarding the closing of Wolverine. However, I didn’t want the public’s last vision of Wolverine to be one of failure and strife.

As with untold thousands in North Alabama over the last six decades, since opening in 1948, Wolverine has been an extremely positive factor in the life of my family as I grew up in Hartselle. For many decades, Wolverine had a job stability and competitive income unmatched by many companies.

My father, Charles Burnum, began work at Wolverine in the early 1950s after exiting the Army. He served as an engineer and in the machine shop for nearly 40 years until his retirement about 1990. In the late 1950s my father had the opportunity to transfer his skills and education to a brand new company in Huntsville called NASA. He declined to do so because he enjoyed his career and the Wolverine “family.” Delphi-Saginaw became an option in the 1970s, but again my father stayed because of the great people at Wolverine.

While working 80-hour weeks during college summers, Wolverine reinforced upon my sister, two brothers and me the life values of integrity, honesty and hard work. We all ultimately achieved college degrees. Without lessons learned and income earned at Wolverine I would not have succeeded in college and law school or become an attorney.

It is indeed sad for the Valley that Wolverine has to close. Although Wolverine will soon be gone, great memories will remain.

John Eric Burnum

Tube plant closure will be hardship on most families

To The Daily: I have held many, many positions at “The Tube” (Wolverine), both salary and hourly. My 25-year career ended Friday.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have already found another job and quit with great prejudice. I’m tired of all the lies we were told over the years. It is highly unlikely their so-called incentives would net hourly employees (375) much more than a couple of weeks’ pay. Only 10.28 percent got a severance package and the majority of these salaried folks (44) will get 26 weeks’ pay.

Two months insurance will not be paid (as reported by the media) for anyone, unless they stay to the bitter end. Many people have medical conditions which are life threatening without their medications. The company wouldn’t even set a date for the job fair until the last few weeks of December, to wring the last out of the hourly folks. Most of the 1,400 jobs at the career center as reported by The Daily are not even within 75 miles of Decatur. Could you commute that far?

How many of these jobs in Decatur pay more than $10 per hour? Few indeed. I was told the only company offering applications at the employment office in Decatur was the poultry plant, at minimum wage. Who can pay a mortgage and keep a child in college on that?

James T. “Tim” Copeland

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