Columbia Falls, Montana, USA, 27 April 2009 -- Despite efforts to maintain as many manufacturing jobs as possible during continued challenging business conditions in the housing sector, today Plum Creek announced plans to permanently close its Pablo sawmill. The company issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices to 87 employees at the Pablo facility, and to 69 workers at its Evergreen sawmill, and 130 employees at its Columbia Falls sawmill.
The WARN Act requires companies that employ more than 100 employees to provide notice 60 days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.
The Pablo mill, near Polson, produces pine boards and has been operating at one shift. The mill will continue to run for the next 60 days or until log inventory is depleted, whichever comes first. Plum Creek will not operate the facility thereafter. Employees will be paid for 60 days, whether or not the mill operates that long. Beyond that time, they will receive severance and be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits.
The Columbia Falls pine board sawmill, curtailed from early January through mid-March, is currently operating with one and one half shifts and employs 130 people. The Evergreen stud sawmill near Kalispell, which employs 69 people, has been curtailed since early January. Evergreen employees will return to work on 04 May to restart the mill. These two mills will run for 60 days. The decision to operate these facilities beyond that time will be based on market conditions and the economic performance of each mill.
“The waning demand for our wood products is directly linked to the troubled housing market,” said Rick Holley, Plum Creek president and chief executive officer. “Housing starts dropped again last month and we expect economic conditions to continue to put pressure on new construction. Unfortunately, we must, once again, take steps to attempt to match supply with the eroding demand. We regret that the Pablo mill closure will affect a number of our valued employees and their families.”