Newberg's SP laying off 70, converting one newsprint machine
According to Scott Wagener, general manager, the layoffs will be effective in two waves, one taking effect today, Jan. 17, and the remainder next Friday, Jan. 25. At least some rehiring is anticipated once the conversion is complete.
The company announced Monday the plans to convert its Paper Machine (PM) 5, which had been producing newsprint, into one that would produce lightweight bag paper and corrugated packing products. The machine was shut down Wednesday morning in preparation, with conversion expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2014.
“Our intent would be to bring as many back as quickly as possible,” said Wagener. He said the layoffs have occurred based on seniority, and rehiring would follow the same process.
“We have a lot of time and training invested in folks,” said Wagener.
The company’s PM6 will continue to produce recycled content newsprint for the West Coast market.
Asked about the reaction of employees, Wagener responded, “They’re dissapointed, of course, but everybody is aware of the declining newsprint market.”
“This project reflects the strategy to grow our packaging business while remaining a preferred newsprint supplier in the West,” said the company’s CEO, Allen Byrd.
“Newberg is a solid asset with great people. We are very excited about this expansion of our packaging business in the West.”
In a court-approved sale in September 2012, SP Fiber Technologies acquired substantially all the assets and certain liabilities of SP Newsprint and its subsidiaries, which had been going through bankruptcy. It included the Newberg mill and a mill in Dublin, Ga., where it located its corporate headquarters.
The mill is located at 1301 Wynooski Road in Newberg.