The first round of layoffs at Hammond Cedar came Friday, as up to 50 employees worked their last shift.
Union president Al Bieksa of United Steelworkers Local 2009 said between 40 and 50 workers were to be laid off, as the first major layoff as the mill begins to shut down permanently.
Owner Interfor announced in September it will be closing the mill, which has operated at the site for more than a century. Interfor will be selling the 28-acre property located on the banks of the Fraser River near the Golden Ears Bridge.
Bieksa said the mill’s planer will run for another week, and there will be shipping work for some employees for almost a month. There also needs to be cleanup work on the equipment.
There are 147 regular employees at the mill, including 130 union members. But Bieksa explained more will be out of work, because there are contractors there on a daily basis – most to do maintenance work. He estimated 200 will lose their jobs.
The company’s goal is that all union members will finished work by Oct. 25, said Bieksa. They will, however, continue to receive payment for a full 90-day notice period which will take them through November.
“Everyone will be off, but will continue getting their pay for another four week,” he said.
He said the union and company are working to get employees jobs in the company, particularly those who need work in the forest industry for pension considerations.
The company and union recently completed a closure agreement, which Bieksa said will support them well as they transition into other work.