OLD TOWN (AP) – Union members at the Georgia-Pacific Corp. paper mill, which shut down its two tissue machines and converting lines, voted Sunday to accept a severance package agreed upon last week by company and union negotiators.

Laid-off workers also voted to accept a union recommendation on rulebook changes they hoped would enable some of them to return to work should the company restart part of its discontinued operation.

PACE, the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers union local, refused to release specific vote results from Sunday’s meetings, but officials said both measures passed “overwhelmingly.”

The April 4 closing of the tissue plant put 300 people out of work. Another 300 workers are still employed in the mill’s pulp production operation and in maintenance and clerical jobs at the mill.

Union officials said the severance was “pretty standard,” but includes health care for displaced workers through August.

The state’s severance law requires that an employee who has worked more than three years receive at least one week of pay for every year of service. The package union workers voted on includes money for workers with less than three years of service.

The severance package involves insurance, the payment and state adjustment and retraining funding, said Mike St. Peter, recording secretary for the union local.

“The second purpose (of the meetings) is to review the possible language change in the event that we can come to some conclusion about getting parts of the consumer (production) up and running again,” he said.

St. Peter said this may “entail a tissue machine startup and some converting lines.”

Company officials last week downplayed the possibility of restarting part of the tissue-making operation but did not rule it out.

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