RUMFORD – The declining coated paper market has prompted NewPage Corp. to call a millwide shutdown from March 22-29.

Mill spokesman Tony Lyons confirmed the shutdown Monday morning. He said most of the mill’s 860 employees will be out of work. An undetermined number of salaried and hourly workers will remain on site to take care of critical matters.

Local 900 Union President Matt Bean said Monday afternoon that he expects to meet with management to learn the number of employees who will remain on the job during that week.

“Everybody’s a little glum. It’s hard for people to take this. It’s very confusing,” he said.

Lyons said the mill is encouraging employees to use vacation time during the shutdown. Those who don’t will be laid off.

The layoff takes place during a permanent work force reduction that eliminated about 130 jobs. Thirty salaried employees already have left their jobs. Approximately 100 hourly employees are being let go as their replacements, who hold seniority, are trained for their jobs.

Bean said 37 hourly workers have been let go as of now.

The mill also has been experiencing a series of rolling layoffs rotating among paper machines. The last, for No. 15 paper machine employees, ended Feb. 28, Bean said.

The 130 permanent jobs cut are the result of Miamisburg, Ohio-based NewPage’s goal to cut 150,000 tons of product during the first quarter of 2009.

NewPage also owns mills in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nova Scotia.

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