RUMFORD – Local 900 union President Matt Bean said Wednesday that plans were proceeding to shut down the NewPage Corp. paper mill for 10 days starting Sunday.

About 850 employees will be idled by the move, the result of a decline in the coated paper market, company officials have said. Workers have been encouraged to use vacation time; otherwise, they will be laid off.

“There will be a skeleton crew starting Sunday,” Bean said. “It’s a big mill. People will be provided with radios.”

He said one or two hourly employees will be charged with covering each area of the mill, on the lookout for fires or spills. Employees will be at the site 24 hours a day until most of the mill comes back up March 29. A few maintenance workers and security guards will also be in the mill during the shutdown.

Bean said the only major piece of equipment to continue working will be the No. 6 boiler, which provides heat. The Nos. 10, 12 and 15 machines will be down. The No. 9 pulp dryer has been down for months.

All but one of the machines that were running before the shutdown will be up and running on March 29. The No. 10 machine requires mechanical repairs so it won’t be back up until March 30.

The 10-day shutdown came on the heels of an announcement in January that about 100 hourly workers and 30 salaried employees would be permanently laid off. The salaried employees involved in that layoff have left, as have most of the hourly workers.

A few of the people being laid off remain on site, training their replacements who have seniority.


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