Georgia Pacific officially notified three different union organizations last week of the closure dates, as required by law and said there will be no closures until September.
Mike Hohnadel, Georgia Pacific’s vice president of manufacturing, sent out a letter addressed to three recipients: David Ricks, president of United Steelworkers Local 369; Thomas Young, president of International Association of Machinist Local 1364; and Stephen Meeks, president of United Steelworkers Local 589.
In the letter, Hohnadel said that he anticipated 496 employees will be affected by the shutdown specifically 91 salaried employees and 405 hourly employees.
The first round of lay-offs is expected to happen between Sept. 10 and Sept. 23.
According to the letter, approximately 58 employees will be let go during that time and the remaining positions will be terminated between the dates of Oct. 13 and Oct. 26.
Jennifer King, Georgia Pacific’s public affairs manager, verified that the letter was sent out to the union presidents on July 10 and that it was a formality that is required by law.
King also said that the dates were the most accurate and up to date information that has been released at this time.
An earlier release dated June 4 said, “in July (the company) will shut down one of the mill’s older tissue machines that doesn’t support the long-term competitiveness of the tissue business,” but King said that no machines would be shut down until September.
“We have no current plans of shutting anything down this month,” King said.
King also verified that employees who stay with the company through the shutdown date will remain eligible for severance pay, however, eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.
King said too that the company will meet with the unions next month and until then she had very limited information. King said details are still being discussed and severance packages will not be discussed until September.
“The meetings with our unions are scheduled for the month of August and until those communications are complete, we still have questions that we can’t answer, however we remain committed to helping our displaced employees as much as we can” King said.
Georgia Pacific is also working with the Arkansas Department of Workforce to provide career transition assistance and will be hosting a job fair on July 23 and July 24.
King said they are expecting around 40 businesses to attend the job fair at Georgia Pacific’s learning center next week.
King also said there will be a benefits meeting for employees on Sept. 23 and 24 and that times for those meetings would be released at a later date.