RUMFORD – A temporary shutdown of three departments at the NewPage paper mill is expected to be announced soon, Local 900 President Matt Bean said Thursday.

He said he did not have details of the expected shutdown of the ground wood, long log and pulp dryer departments.

“People are wondering where they will be,” he said, adding that the number of potential layoffs had not been announced.

Mill spokesman Tony Lyons said meetings among officials, employees and the union are ongoing.

He issued a statement Wednesday that said the company was keeping its manufacturing process “as flexible as possible to meet customer needs and balance supply and demand without interrupting our customer commitments.”

On Thursday, he declined to comment on whether there would be layoffs.

About 200 millworkers in maintenance, on the No. 15 machine, in ground wood and long log returned to work on Jan. 2 following a nearly four-week layoff. Lyons said that layoff was caused by fewer orders and warehousing of paper.

“We continue to respond to a very competitive and challenging marketplace and economy,” he said in his statement. “We are taking necessary measures in response to these conditions and are not sharing any specific information publicly at this time regarding our operation.”

Employees who returned to work last Friday were laid off according to the position they held because it was a temporary layoff. If a layoff occurs for longer than 30 days, a policy of last-in, first-out would go into effect.

The local mill employs about 1,000 hourly and salaried people. It is one of five mills owned by NewPage Corp. All have been affected by layoffs.

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