MISSOULA – The final dozen Stimson Lumber Co. employees in Montana were laid off indefinitely Tuesday from a plant in Libby.
Jeff Webber, Stimson’s vice president for manufacturing, said the workers face at least a nine-month indefinite layoff.
“The product the plant makes goes directly to the housing market,” he said. “If housing rebounds, then the product they make will be back in demand and we could start it back up.”
The plant employed about 30 people at its peak and produced finger joints, which allow short pieces of lumber to be put together end to end.
Mike Woodworth, business manager for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 3038, said the workers were “shocked” at the announcement and had been told the plant would remain open as long as they met their production goals.
“It’s a prelude to a permanent closure, just like they’ve done in Bonner,” he said. “They just don’t want to be in Montana.”
Last week, the Portland, Ore.-based timber company announced it wouldn’t resume operations at the Bonner sawmill and is trying to sell the 155-acre site for $16 million.
“We’ve been proactively closing and curtailing operations that we don’t see a good future for,” Webber said.
He said he anticipates a slow recovery in the industry, which has been affected by foreign competition and a slump in the housing market.
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