AUGUSTA, Maine —
Sappi North America announced Thursday that it will permanently shut down Paper Machine 9 and the majority of the energy complex at its mill in Westbrook.
While the Westbrook Mill will continue to operate, the company says shutting down this machine will result in layoffs for 75 employees.
The lawmakers that represent Westbrook issued statements in support of the workers.
“Losing this many jobs in our community is devastating. For this many workers to lose their employment — and the steady paycheck and benefits that come with it — is especially painful. My heart goes out to these hardworking Mainers and their families," Sen. Heather Sanborn said in a statement.
“Time is running out for many Maine logging and trucking contractors, and if we lose these companies many will not be coming back no matter what happens to markets in the future,” Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC) Executive Director Dana Doran said. “Congress and the Trump administration need to act swiftly to support relief for the nation’s logging and forest trucking companies while those companies are still viable.”
In response to the announcement Thursday Gov. Janet Mills said it's "sad news" for Maine and the 75 impacted workers.
"The Maine Department of Labor stands ready to help these employees through this difficult time by providing unemployment insurance, job training, and any other appropriate assistance," Mills said in a statement. "I spoke with Sappi North America’s CEO this morning, and he assured me that the company’s operations at the Somerset Mill are unaffected by this decision and that the mill is in an economically productive position for the long term. Sappi is a valued employer in our state, and my Administration will continue to support their ongoing R&D efforts in Westbrook, which are crucial as we continue to transform and revitalize our forest products industry, a vital pillar of our state’s economy that supports the livelihoods of thousands of Maine people.”
Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley said in a statement he will "immediately" reach out to the Department of Labor and ask them to mobilize their rapid response team in help the displaced workers in accessing unemployment benefits, job search services, and training opportunities.
Foley says he and Westbrook are "encouraged by Sappi's commitment to consider redevelopment opportunities for their Westbrook site and look forward to working with their team to identify appropriate reuse options for their facilities."
Lawmakers urge affected workers to look into the following resources:
JOB SEARCH RESOURCES:
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RESOURCES: