Georgia-Pacific to dismiss 650 workers at Port Hudson paper mill

Paper operation to end in March
Georgia-Pacific plant in Port Hudson, LA
Georgia-Pacific plant in Port Hudson, LA(Source: Derron Daquano (custom credit) | Source: WAFB)
Updated: Jan. 10, 2019 at 4:04 PM CST
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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:

We stand in solidarity with the employees of Georgia-Pacific during this difficult time. Our Louisiana Workforce Commission and Louisiana Economic Development teams will assist Georgia-Pacific employees in every way possible to use all resources to identify new jobs for laid-off workers and to assist them and their families. This is a difficult situation we will work through together. Despite this, Louisiana’s economy is strong and growing, and there are many employment opportunities we can capture to re-employ the talented and dedicated manufacturing workers at Georgia-Pacific.

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
  • Apprenticeships

You can learn more about those services in the clip below.

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