Stimson Lumber Workers Hear About Retraining, Education Options

By Beacon Staff

BONNER – Ninety-two workers at Stimson Lumber Co. that face an indefinite layoff from the Bonner plant in mid-May are being urged to start considering their future plans.

Stimson workers were briefed Tuesday on their options for retraining, education and other prospects by a variety of government agencies.

“There are some of us who are just bamboozled by the ‘what next’ step,” said Larry Keogh, a sawmill equipment operator since 1990.

Wolf Ametsbichler, manager of the Missoula Job Service, said there are programs and money to help workers who seek education or job training in a new industry. He said there are also programs to help with relocation, retirement or temporary wage assistance if they accept lower-paying jobs.

He urged workers not to quit or accept a new job without first calling his office because many of the programs apply to laid-off workers.

Representatives from the Missoula Job Service, Dickinson Adult Learning Center and the University of Montana’s College of Technology promised to provide skills assessments, job-matching services and remedial education.

Lois Lemieux of the state Department of Labor and Industry told workers they’re eligible for up to 28 weeks of unemployment assistance.

Mike Woodworth, business manager for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 3038, said the union and management are still negotiating a severance package and will meet again on May 2.

Woodworth said a meeting for workers will be held on May 17 to discuss severance, health and pension benefits.

Most of the Bonner workers will be laid off on May 19, but a handful will remain to clean up the mill’s operations, said Dorothy Cross, human resources coordinator for Stimson in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

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