The ND Paper mill dominates the Rumford skyline Jan. 28, 2019. The company announced Thursday that it is shutting down one of its machines temporarily due to market conditions and laying off some employees. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

RUMFORD — ND Paper in Rumford announced Thursday that it is temporarily shutting down one of its papermaking machines, affecting about 100 employees, some of whom were laid off Thursday.

In a written statement provided to the media, the company said: “In Rumford, we are reallocating our production capacity to match our customer demand across our manufacturing platform. This change will result in market-related downtime for one of our machines. Approximately 100 employees will be impacted by this decision.”

According to United Steel Workers Local 900 Facebook page, a number of employees were laid off Thursday. It’s unclear how many, but the figure of 34 has been repeated in various posts. In its message to members, the union stated it will be setting up for Rapid Response at the union hall on the next few Thursdays.

In a follow-up email from ND Paper’s corporate communications office to the Sun Journal regarding the number of employees that have been laid off, or will be laid off in total, the company stated: “We are going to follow the terms of the labor contract.”

According to George O’Keefe, Rumford’s Economic Development Director, roughly 80 positions will be affected by the current changes at the mill and between 30 and 40 workers will be laid off.

“These are temporary layoffs,” O’Keefe said. “This is a market-related downtime with temporary layoffs. The company has also indicated to us that this is industrywide across the country right now. It’s really just related to pricing.”


O’Keefe said the town will work alongside the Maine Department of Labor to assist the affected workers.

The changes are centered on the conversion of the R15 paper machine back to bleached grades of linerboard and pulp. An employee at the mill posted what he said was a text he received from a supervisor.

It reads, in part: “R12 will be shut down indefinitely on Monday, R9 idled during lack of fiber. 17 salary employees have been cut, 69 hourly employees will be affected with the associated equipment shutting down for the machines. The mill is not profitable in current state due to declining market conditions and sales price on brown paper.”

In December 2023, Gov. Janet Mills announced an award of $1 million from the final round of the Forest Recovery Initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to ND Paper for R15 packaging paper machine enhancement.

ND Paper issued the following comment regarding the award from the governor’s office: “We made several key improvements to R15 last fall, and the machine will continue to operate moving forward.”

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