Georgia Pacific officially notified three different union organizations last week of the planned Crossett mill closure dates, as required by law.
The company said said there will be no closures until September.
Georgia Pacific Crossett’s Vice President of Manufacturing Mike Hohnadel sent out a letter addressed to three recipients: David Ricks, president of United Steelworkers Local 369; Thomas Young, president of International Association of Machinist Local 1364; and Stephen Meeks, president of United Steelworkers Local 589. In the letter, Hohnadel said that he anticipated 496 employees will be affected by the shutdown announced in June, specifically 91 salaried employees and 405 hourly employees.
The first round of lay-offs is expected to happen between Sept. 10 and Sept. 23. According to the letter, approximately 58 employees will lose their jobs during that time and the remaining positions will be terminated between the dates of Oct. 13 and Oct. 28.
Georgia Pacific’s Public Affairs Manager Jennifer King verified that the letter was sent out to the union presidents on July 10 and that it was a formality that is required by law.
King also said that the dates were the most accurate and up-to-date information that has been released at this time.
The company had previously said some shutdowns would begin in July, but King said that no machines would be shut down until September.
“We have no current plans of shutting anything down this month,” King said.
King also verified that employees who stay with the company through the shutdown date will remain eligible for severance pay, though eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.
King also said the company will meet with the unions next month and until then she had very limited information. King said details are still being discussed and severance packages will not be discussed until September.
“The meetings with our unions are scheduled for the month of August and until those communications are complete, we still have questions that we can’t answer; however, we remain committed to helping our displaced employees as much as we can” King said.
Georgia Pacific is also working with the Arkansas Department of Workforce to provide career transition assistance and will be hosting a job fair on July 23 and July 24.
King said they are expecting around 40 businesses to attend the job fair at Georgia Pacific’s learning center next week.
King also said there will be a benefits meeting for employees on Sept. 23 and 24 and that times for those meetings would be released on a later date.
Nancy Jones with the Department of Workforce said there is currently a mobile unit set up at Georgia Pacific that will remain there indefinitely.
The Business Retention and Workforce Transition Team operates five Mobile Workforce Centers. Each Mobile Workforce Center has full Internet connectivity and is equipped with computers, printers, copiers and fax machines. All of the Mobile Workforce Centers include a computer with access to Jobs Application With Speech (JAWS) software, and most mobile units are handicapped accessible.
Workers may be provided assistance on drafting résumés and letters of application, effective interviewing skills, productive job search techniques and Arkansas Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) assessments.