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Paper Excellence Howe Sound Mill Closure Could Cost 130-Plus Jobs

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The unexpected closure by Paper Excellence of paper production operations at the company’s Howe Sound Mill, near Gibsons, B.C., Canada, (due to drought conditions) could cost more than 130 jobs, says Unifor Local 1119. "The announcement was a shock to us all," said Unifor Local 1119 President Don Rheaume. "We're very disappointed and will work hard to help our members who are displaced by the closure." 
 
Rheaume says the union will be working with Paper Excellence to establish a labor adjustments committee to mitigate the impact on the mill's workers. He said that he hopes to secure severance packages, early retirement packages, and re-training opportunities for those affected. 
 
"The management has indicated that there are many options on the table, and we're going to explore all of them," Rheaume said. 
 
The Howe Sound Mill also operates a power plant and produces pulp. Paper Excellence said that the timing of this week’s announcement is related to the dwindling supply of water in Lake Seven, which feeds the mill's paper, pulp, and power operations. By closing the paper functions as soon as possible, the company hopes to stretch the water supply for pulp and
power to avoid temporary closures of those sections of the mill. 
 
"My heart goes out to the members who have contributed to this mill for so long," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director. "That community will miss those good jobs." 
 
Affected members of Unifor Local 1119 will continue to work for the next 60 days and can potentially take a transfer to one of the other three pulp mills that Paper Excellence owns in British Columbia. 
 
Financial planning advisors will be on site to assist workers with the transition. 
 
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labor Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
 

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