RUMFORD – Nearly 400 hourly employees at NewPage Corp. will find themselves without a job for 10 days next month due to a reduction in paper production.

The announcement came two days after the start-up of the mill’s paper machines following a 10-day shutdown that began on March 22.

But the news wasn’t all negative. Mill spokesman Tony Lyons said Wednesday that about 20 people who were permanently laid off last month have been recalled to get the No. 9 pulp dryer working. It had been idling for months.

The May shutdown is the result of a company-wide 150,000-ton reduction in paper production. “The market continues to be very challenging,” Lyons said. “We can’t produce something we can’t sell.”

The shutdown, set to begin on May 10, is the time a maintenance shutdown usually occurs each year to service boilers and do other work. But under normal economic conditions, employees would still be on the job. Not this year. Most who generally work on Nos. 10, 12 and 15 machines will be laid off.

Salaried employees, as well as the maintenance crew, will be working, along with some hourly employees. The mill employs about 860 people.

Lyons said some rolling layoffs likely will occur for one to three weeks on either side of the shutdown. Those layoffs will not affect all machines, he said. Some employees won’t know whether they will be affected by the rolling layoffs until the week before, he said. And if an order comes in, the rolling layoffs may not happen.

The recalls are the result of the local mill’s opportunity to produce pulp for other NewPage mills. “This will be a relatively long-term commitment,” he said. The pulp dryer, No. 9 machine, is scheduled to come back up in mid-April.

In a statement from the NewPage central office in Miamisburg, Ohio, Chief Executive Officer Rick Willett said, “We continue to operate in a challenging marketplace where total advertising spent has sharply declined. We remain dedicated to helping NewPage come out of this recession stronger than our competitors.”

The NewPage group of mills reduced its production by 150,000 tons during the first quarter of 2009 because of the market. At the Rumford mill, rolling layoffs occurred during several weeks, leaving some employees idle. Another 100 hourly and 30 salaried employees were permanently laid off.

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


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