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McKinley paper mill to lay off 193 employees

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (From news reports) -- Almost 200 people will lose their jobs later this summer in Port Angeles after McKinley Paper Company announced plans to shut down its operations.

In a letter sent to employees Tuesday, the company gave a 60-day notice of a massive layoff as required under the WARN Act. 193 employees are affected by the move, many of them union members.

The letter didn't specify a reason for the shutdown, but General Manager Kevin Scott said on Wednesday, "We hope it will reopen. The plan is to prepare the mill to be idle and then to be able to restart, and we'd like that to happen sooner rather than later. It's a question of when the market conditions will allow. We've been waiting for the sale price of our product to increase, and it has not increased as we'd like. Meanwhile, our input costs have gone up. So, it's market related. And we're trying to prepare our people and the facility to get through until the market does allow us to restart."

Scott said the company is currently negotiating with the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers. The company is not offering transfers for its employees and only said they are welcome to apply for other positions at other McKinley operations if they choose.

McKinley Operations Director Isaac Rosas wrote in an email to employees Tuesday that those who are laid off before Aug. 25 will receive their normal pay and benefits for the remainder of the period unless they are terminated for cause or choose to quit.

McKinley will have a few jobs that extend beyond Aug. 25 in order to maintain the facility.

Affected employees include members of the collective bargaining unit. There will be no transfers or bumping rights, although employees can apply for positions at other McKinley locations, Roses said in the email.

"We hope that the facility will resume operations at some point in the future but cannot say when," Rosas said.

The mill was purchased by McKinley from the Japanese-owned Nippon Paper Industries USA in 2017 for $20.6 million. After almost three years of retooling, the mill opened in early 2020 and began producing containerboard out of 100 percent recycled cardboard.

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