Help for Brokaw mill workers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Help for Brokaw mill workers

BROKAW (WAOW) -- One day after Wausau Paper announced a decision to sell its Brokaw mill and shut it down, plans are already in the works to help the 450 employees find new jobs.

Local employment experts are teaming up with state leaders to help those workers get back on their feet after they're laid off.

In the next three months, business will grind to a halt inside the Wausau Paper mill in Brokaw. That closure will leave 450 workers without a job by the end of March.

"I feel sorry for the people that are losing their jobs," said Jim Sonnentag, who lives in Brokaw. "I'm hoping they find some kind of decent employment, not minimum wage someplace."

Rapid response teams are being assembled for the workers who will be out of a job.

"It's always hard to change careers but these are folks who have longtime work records and have good work habits and good work skills so that helps them," said workforce development area manager Tom Younger.

The Labor Education Training Center has joined the effort along with state workforce officials. They said they'll start training and information sessions soon.

"The company doesn't just want to dump people on the street because that doesn't do anybody any good," said Younger. "They're very willing to try to figure out what's going to go on and make sure people are aware of the things that are available to them."

Wausau Paper officials said the workers will be able to apply for open positions at their other locations.

"Some of the folks who have very specific skills will be very much in demand," said Younger. "They're pipe-fitters, or steam-fitters or maintenance mechanics. Those are very high demand occupations."

As for where workers will take those skills and what will happen to the village, that will play out during the next few months.

"What'll happen? I don't know," said Sonnentag. "We're just going to have to wait and see."

Workers don't have to wait until next year to start looking for new opportunities. Employment experts encourage them to take advantage of state job resources in advance to help prepare for the future. Click here for a link to the Job Center website.

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