UPDATE: The Maine Pulp & Paper Association released this statement following the announcement of Verso layoffs.
Today's announcement from Verso about layoffs at the Androscoggin Mill is further illustration of an industry in flux as market demands shift and R&D spawns innovation. Today, our thoughts are with those whose livelihoods are directly affected by the announcement, and with the Town of Jay and surrounding communities, where Verso will continue to serve as one of the area's largest employers, with more than 350 on the rolls even after the idling of the A3 machine. On the cusp of important elections across the state and the nation, the Maine Pulp & Paper Association continues to call for concerted support of our state's important manufacturing assets, for a renewed look at the cost of energy, and for a re-doubling of efforts to ensure the health of our state's vitally important forest products industry, which, even in spite of changing external conditions and a spat of closures, continues to serve as a top economic exporter and key employer here in Maine.
JAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Verso Corporation announced Tuesday it will idle its number 3 paper mill at the Androscoggin Mill in 2017, laying off about 190 workers.
The plans are temporary, according to the company. If the machine is not restarted, the capacity reduction will result in the elimination of the jobs.
"Verso made the decision to temporarily idle the No. 3 paper machine and transition the machine's production to lower-cost machines in our manufacturing system to help us stay ahead of the curve and move the entire company toward sustained profitability," said Michael A. Weinhold, Verso Senior Vice President for Sales, Marketing and Product Development. "At the same time, we are positioning the mill for future success by optimizing equipment, enhancing process efficiency and expanding production for the growing specialty papers market."
The layoffs will reduce the annual coated paper production capacity by approximately 200,000 tons. The mill also will idle a digester and recovery boiler that support the No. 3 paper machine.
"It's critical to Verso's long-term success that we balance the supply of our products with our customers' demand for them, and we currently have more coated paper capacity in our mill system than we can fill," Weinhold said.
"Challenging market conditions have made these types of actions far too frequent in recent years, and they are never easy," Weinhold said. "They are especially difficult for the employees and their families who are directly affected. Verso is committed to treating all of our impacted employees with fairness, dignity and respect and to communicating openly and honestly with each individual about how this decision will affect him or her. Our Human Resources team will begin meeting with our affected employees immediately.
Verso will continue to evaluate market conditions to determine if and when the No. 3 paper machine at the Androscoggin Mill will be restarted.