TOLEDO, Oregon (From news reports) -- Georgia-Pacific announced Wednesday that 100 hourly employees will be laid off as the mill temporarily ceases operations for a second time this year.
Citing the "same fluctuating economic conditions that prompted the mill's temporary closure May 21-27," GP expects to stop operation of two of the mill's three paper machines starting July 13 for seven to 10 days.
"As we publicly announced in May, COVID-19 continues to disrupt the economy, locally and nationally," GP explained in a press release issued on Wednesday. "These decisions are never easy to make. We understand they may cause concern and anxiety among our employees and the communities in which they live."
C.J. Drake, public affairs officer wrote, "At Georgia-Pacific, we are trying to manage as best we can the impact to our overall business and the Toledo mill. The forecasted demand for our product (containerboard used in the manufacture of packaging boxes) remains volatile."
In an email, Drake elaborated. "The containerboard we manufacture is used in packaging a wide variety of consumer goods, such as fresh produce, appliances and just about anything else that goes into packaging boxes." The containerboard is shipped to factories throughout the western U.S. for conversion into boxes. Businesses making the products requiring the boxes are placing fewer orders for them from the factories producing the boxes, he explained. "The volatility is a reflection of consumer spending to acquire the actual products that go into the boxes," he said.
"During the temporary closure of these paper machines, we will maintain their readiness to resume operation. In the meantime, we continue to encourage our employees and fellow Oregonians to comply with public health measures to protect against COVID-19," Drake wrote in the press release.
"One of the things about the whole COVID crisis is the uncertainty that people feel all the time," Toledo Mayor Rod Cross told the News-Times. "The uncertainty of knowing if you're going to have (COVID) or not, the uncertainty of knowing if you're going to have a job tomorrow or not, the uncertainty of if we will ever get back to normal.
"Those are good jobs," Cross said of the GP work force, "and when those jobs are not working, it affects how the economy works here in Toledo." He noted GP is the largest industrial employer in the county,
"We're not a tourist destination. We're not a science hub. We're a working, blue collar town," Cross said of Toledo. On the necessary measures being taken by the mill, he expressed, "It's hard. It weighs on everyone. This mill has been here since 1957. It's almost like habit for people in this town."