Paper company speaks out after layoff announcement - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Paper company speaks out after layoff announcement


Flambeau River Papers in Park Falls was forced to layoff 82 off their 300 employees. 

The city only has a population of about 2,400, and the mill was a center point.

"Yeah, you know in the town of 24 hundred people the paper mill is the lifeblood of the community here," said Bill Johnson, one of the owners. 

His family has run the company for more than a decade.

"We were able to reopen the mill, bring close to 300 people back to work, and we've been able to do that since 2006," he said. 

The recent layoffs resulted from increasing production costs and decreasing sales. 

"Paper prices in the commodity grades have really gone down while pulp prices have gone up," Johnson said. "And it just became a financial drain on the mill to be able to continue much longer."

Though necessary, the layoffs are putting a strain on the Johnsons.

"For our family, it's been very difficult," he said. "We look at each and every person that works for us as family - not just employees."

Those getting let go will have trouble finding similar employment in the small city.

"Very difficult to find similar jobs for equal pay in this area, this is one of the top paying jobs," said Carl Graceffa, vice president of the local union. "Without re-education and stuff like that, people are going to have a hard time finding jobs of equal pay."

Moving forward, the Johnsons and union leaders are working to lessen the impact.

"We're going to get through this together," said Doug Hilgart, the local union president. 

Two-hundred people will be able to keep their jobs at the paper mill. 

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