Georgia-Pacific is explaining its decision to layoff 158 …
Updated: Thursday, 03 Dec 2009, 5:41 PM CST
Published : Thursday, 03 Dec 2009, 1:57 PM CST
GREEN BAY - Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment.
The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated.
"What is hard is that these short-term decisions are tough but we need to make them and they are essential for the long-term to keep our company competitive," said Mary Jo Malach, the spokesperson for Georgia-Pacific's Brown County operations.
The layoffs represent about 25% of the plant's workforce.
Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.
"The Day Street plant continues to be strong," said Malach.
Georgia-Pacific said it has a long-term commitment to keeping the plant open and that further layoffs are not in the plans.
In coming weeks, the Bay Area Workforce Development Board will host what are known as worker orientation sessions at the mill. It will give the laid off workers a chance to learn about the resources that are available to them.
"Each of these workers will have an opportunity to sit down, one-on-one, with a case manager and begin to make a plan of where they are going to go from here," said Jim Golembeski, the executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.
Golembeski said workers need to have more skills now than ever before. He recommends those who lose their job at the plant get re-trained and consider looking for manufacturing work outside of papermaking.
"The paper industry is increasingly automated. Georgia-Pacific makes a lot more product today then they did 10 years ago, with about half the workforce," said Golembeski.
Laid-off workers will receive pay until February 2, 2010 and benefits until February 28, 2010.
FOX 11's efforts to speak with employees at the mill have been unsuccessful -- and union leaders did not return our phone calls.