MADAWASKA – As many as 70 people could be affected by a shutdown of a paper machine at the Madawaska mill of Fraser Papers Inc., a union official said Monday.
The No. 6 line will be shut down for two weeks. A couple of weeks ago, a C-3 coater on the same line was shut down. The shutdown has been announced for Friday.
Early reports Monday were that 36 people could be out of work. Chad Saucier, union president for union Local 291, said 70 people will be “directly or indirectly” affected by the move.
Company officials would not discuss the shutdown when contacted Monday.
“We’re not going to talk about it,” mill manager Jeffrey Dutton said. “We are going to do some maintenance work in the meantime.”
“New hires – last hired, first out,” Saucier said Monday afternoon of those who will be idled. “There is some [other] work that can be done in the mill.
“It is my job to keep as many people working as I can,” he added. “I will certainly make sure that seniority is honored in the process.”
Saucier said he will try to find as many hours as he can for as many workers as he can. But he said some will be without hours at all.
The paper industry has been in the doldrums for a couple of years now.
Still, people in the St. John Valley area have been happy recently because the paper company, the largest employer in the area, had started hiring spare workers. Two rounds of hiring have occurred in the last 18 months. The most recent was just a couple of months ago.
The company, with mills on both sides of the river at Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick, manufactures fine papers. The Canadian operation makes pulp, and the paper is manufactured in the Madawaska mills.
The company has about 800 employees on the American side of the paper operation.