LINCOLN, Maine — Decreased orders will force Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC to idle a paper machine Friday for at least a week, furloughing two to four workers, officials said Thurs-day.
As many as 16 workers might have been furloughed this weekend, but Lincoln Paper and the workers’ unions agreed to have some water filtration system cleanup work done by those who would have been cut. The company will forgo hiring a contractor for the cleanup.
“We are a very lean organization and we have a great work force that agrees it is in their interest to be very flexible,” mill co-owner Keith Van Scotter said Thursday. “We don’t have barriers when it comes to assigning people new duties, and that is a great help.”
The furloughs reflect the deflated nationwide paper mar-ket, which according to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe lost $2.1 billion just in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The No. 5 paper machine that will be idled Friday at Lincoln Paper has been intermittently shut down for 151 days since October 2008.
In response the weak demand for paper, Lincoln Paper on March 16 placed 17 production workers on a three-month fur-lough; put most hourly maintenance workers on temporary layoff each Friday for three months; and cut salaried pay by 15 percent for three months, company officials have said.
More severe cuts would have occurred had not all sides worked to avoid them, Van Scotter said.
“The last thing we want to do is lay somebody off. It’s person-ally very hurtful,” he said. “Most of the time we have been able to find other work for people to do, but we kind of reached the end of the rope with that.”
Company officials “will evaluate the order situation and the service position on a day-to-day basis and will restart the machine when it makes sense to do so,” Douglas Walsh, Lincoln Paper’s executive vice president of operations, said in a statement.
The company’s tissue production, meanwhile, remains strong.