RUMFORD – Many of NewPage Corp.’s 860 employees will be affected during the next two months as several shutdowns and partial shutdowns take place as a result of continuing poor marketing conditions. The latest is a two-week shutdown planned for the first two weeks of June.

Mill spokesman Tony Lyons said Tuesday afternoon that management is still working through staffing plans.

Announced last week was a shutdown from May 10-17, which normally happens each year to provide boiler and other maintenance. However, employees generally stay on the job. Not this year.

In an attempt to meet the company-wide goal of reducing 150,000 tons of product during the second quarter, the entire mill will also shut down during the first two weeks of June.

Also impacted will be the planned start-up of the No. 9 pulp dryer. Instead, Lyons said that won’t likely happen until the mill is back on line later in June.

Other cutbacks include longer and more extensive rolling shutdowns of the Nos. 10, 12 and 15 paper machines at times other than the scheduled shutdowns, including one or more beginning April 20, and one or more continuing after the mill comes back up on May 17.

“We’re in the process of notifying employees,” Lyons said. “We’re committed to letting employees know.”

He said the market is very challenging.

“We’re trying to reduce and not build up inventory,” he said.

Local 900 union President Matt Bean said he can’t yet say how many people will be affected.

“We’re still trying to work on how to schedule people,” he said. “This is significant downtime. I hope everybody bears equal time off.”

Some employees who were laid off temporarily have found it difficult to collect unemployment because they work just one or two days during a week. Bean said the union has been trying to straighten out discrepancies that keep employees from collecting unemployment benefits.

He said he feels bad for any employee who keeps taking the hit with unemployment.

As far as the ongoing struggles of the local mill, Bean said, “It’s what’s going on in the country. It’s something we have to bear.”

The latest shutdown and partial shutdown word comes on the heels of a permanent layoff of 100 hourly and 50 salaried employees in January. About 20 of the hourly employees were recalled last week to work on the pulp dryer that had been expected to be back up.

Now, though, it’s likely they will be laid off again, said Bean.

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

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