Georgia-Pacific lay-offs planned for end of January

PLATTSBURGH - One of the city's larger employers will downsize next month by laying off approximately 70 employees.

Kirk A. Stallsmith, general manager of the Georgia-Pacific facility in Plattsburgh, said employees were notified Dec. 9-10 there will be an approximate 20 percent reduction in the workforce. The mill, which currently employees 347 people, will indefinitely lay off a combination of hourly and salary full-time employees Jan. 16. Salaried employees affected by the lay-offs will be offered standard corporate severance packages, though hourly employees will not.

The lay-offs are among approximately 850 announced across Georgia-Pacific facilities across North America, with a decline in customer demand for certain products and the state of the economy cited as the reasoning behind the decisions.

"Converting operations, maintenance, warehouse - each division is getting affected to a certain degree," explained Stallsmith. "This is impacting Georgia-Pacific across the board. It's a tough economic time for the company and our sister companies."

Locally, Georgia-Pacific already had plans to reduce its workforce earlier this fall, said Stallsmith, when a series of meetings was held in September. Then, management communicated there would be downsizing as a result of a decline in demand for certain products such as paper napkins and paper towels, which are among the main products turned out by the Plattsburgh facility. Voluntary severance opportunity packages, or VSOs, were offered at that time, resulting in about 20 accepting the packages.

"Since that time, since we had those communication meetings, the market obviously took a turn for the worse," Stallsmith said, referring to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and declining housing market. "Subsequently, a number of Georgia-Pacific's businesses have been hit very hard by the economic climate ... The impact of the economic change to parts of our business is going to require us to speed up the process that we downsize."

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