RUMFORD – Thirteen percent of the workers at NewPage Corp. will permanently lose their jobs over the next few weeks.

A news release issued Tuesday afternoon by mill management said 100 hourly employees and 30 salaried people would be permanently laid off.

“This is very unfortunate for all involved. A hundred people is devastating,” said Local 900 President Matt Bean of the United Paperworkers International Union.

When the layoffs are completed in February, employment at the local mill will fall to about 860.

Mill officials said in a prepared statement that nearly all areas of the mill would be affected by the layoffs.

Long log, ground wood and the No. 9 pulp dryer would be hit hardest, Bean said. Seven mechanics in the maintenance department and 15 electricians and instrumentation people in maintenance also would permanently lose their jobs, based on seniority, he said.

Managers said in a statement that the Rumford mill has higher costs than other NewPage mills around the country.

“To proactively ensure the Rumford mill remains competitive regionally, nationally and globally, the mill’s production costs must be reduced. This staffing reduction is one action among many we are taking,” officials said. “Additional initiatives to address the recent cost inflation in raw materials, wood, chemicals and energy are also being implemented.”

A rolling layoff has already affected mill operations and employment. The No. 12 machine went down for a week on Jan. 19, then went back onstream Tuesday. The No. 15 machine is down now, due to be back onstream next week. The No. 10 machine then will go down for a week.

People affected by the permanent layoffs are subject to the last-in, first-out policy, which means those with the most seniority will likely retain jobs in the mill. Seniority does not affect temporary layoffs.

The rolling layoffs and Tuesday’s permanent job cuts come on the heels of a nearly month-long temporary layoff that began on Dec. 8 and ended on Jan. 2. About 200 people were laid off.

The central NewPage office in Miamisburg, Ohio, issued a downtime release last week that said 150,000 tons of product would be reduced during the first quarter of 2009. All 10 NewPage mills are expected to be affected by the product reduction.

Other mills are located in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nova Scotia.

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