Potlatch will shut down mill production two weeks this year during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
That was the diversified forest product company's announcement today.
The company pointed to "high inventory levels, seasonally weak markets and increased import pressures" in a written statement announcing the shutdown. Mill production in Brainerd will be temporarily shut down during the weeks of Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.
Phil Baker, vice president of Potlatch's Minnesota Pulp and Paper Division, said the holiday shutdowns will not affect service to customers.
"We've been operating at full capacity despite soft market conditions for coated printing papers," Baker stated in the news release. "... We're hopeful this action will lead to a year-end inventory correction."
Reached at the union office at Potlatch today, Bob Harting, president of Local 79 of the Paper Allied Chemical and Energy International Workers Union, said the union did not expect to have an official response to the announcement.
Harting said the shutdown was related to the market changes and not to recent negotiations between labor and management. Potlatch Corp. is in the process of a workforce reduction and was recently in negotiations in regard to an early retirement package that the union membership later rejected.
The Brainerd mill's 662 employees will be able to use vacation time during the holiday shutdown and the company said employees can use 2001 vacation time if vacation benefits have already been fully used this year.
The Cloquet pulp and paper mill is expected to remain in operation during the holidays. The Cloquet mill is directly tied to the pulp mill and pulp markets are solid right now, the company reported. In order to shut down paper machines in Cloquet, Potlatch reported it would need to shut down the Cloquet pulp mill as well.
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