BUCKSPORT — Champion International Corp. has approved a plan to eliminate 27 hourly positions at its Bucksport paper mill by the year 2000 as part of a companywide restructuring program announced last October.
Positions will be cut from a variety of departments, including production, wood processing, maintenance, electrical and general mill services, said mill public relations manager Keith Cunningham, who declined to be more specific as to the number of jobs to be lost in each area.
“Management looked at every position in the mill and decided how to run it most efficiently,” said Cunningham. “There was a conscious attempt to figure out how best to do that.”
Last October, Champion announced plans to sell five of its 11 U.S. mills, and to reduce its remaining nationwide work force by 11 percent by the year 2000. The reduction will involve cutting 9 percent of staff at manufacturing facilities, and 30 percent of corporate staff companywide.
The Bucksport mill is considered a world leader in producing lightweight coated papers used in magazines such as Time and People, and in catalogs including those for L.L. Bean and J.C. Penney.
In November, the Bucksport mill identified 24 salaried positions to eliminate. Since then, 27 hourly positions also have been targeted, as announced to workers Wednesday.
“Management and the unions are going to have to sit down and figure out how to implement this plan as part of ongoing labor negotiations,” Cunningham said Thursday.
As president of United Papermakers International Union Local 261, Arthur Bissonnette said Thursday that workers aren’t yet sure what to expect.
“The reaction has been that people are still wondering what the implications of all this are,” said Bissonnette. “Until the impact becomes clear through bargaining, it’s going to be difficult to gauge the workers’ reaction.”
By the year 2000, the mill expects to employ a total of 1,044 workers, down from the current level of 1,130. Cunningham said 31 positions previously had been targeted for elimination in the years since the mill began “redesign” talks between labor and management in 1990.