PORT HUDSON, LA (WAFB) - Georgia-Pacific announced Thursday morning they will leave the paper business, effectively laying off more than 600 workers at its plant in Port Hudson.
A spokesperson for Georgia-Pacific, Kelly Fergison, said the company will permanently shut down all paper machines, as well as its wood yard and pulp mill.
Employees are told they will stay on through March, at which point they will cease production.
They said they are not completely shutting down the facility. Roughly 300 employees will stay on as part of its consumer tissue and towel business.
Georgia-Pacific said this is not due to poor performance in Port Hudson, instead citing a declining market.
In a statement, Georgia-Pacific president Mike Adams said, "We will be working closely with our printing and writing customers during this time of transition.”
A representative for Georgia-Pacific said salaried employees were offered the company’s standard severance packages, however, most of the affected were union employees. The company is working with the unions to determine what kind of packages will be offered.
In the days ahead, the company says they will be working on possible opportunities to transfer affected employees to other locations and working with local and state companies to organize job fairs.
In the wake of the layoffs, Georgia-Pacific will also not receive property tax breaks recently approved by the parish. A spokesperson for the company confirmed they have requested that their Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) contract not move forward. ITEP gives companies a break in exchange for providing jobs. Since Georgia-Pacific will no longer be able to meet the minimum job requirement, they are withdrawing from the ITEP contract.
Several city leaders and officials have spoken out about the layoffs.
Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said her priority now is to assist those affected by the layoffs by calling a meeting with BRAC, EmployBR, LED, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to “map out a plan of action.”
Services available through EMPLOY BR for dislocated workers include:
- Job Placement Assistance
- Career Counseling
- Workshops - Job Search, Resume Writing, Interviewing Skills, etc.
- Provision of Labor Market Information (LMI)
- Job Fairs & Hiring Events
- Occupational Skills Training
- On-the-Job Training
You can learn more about those services in the clip below.