Layoffs Planned at Manufacturing Plant in Missoula

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – More than 50 employees at a manufacturing plant here are expected to be laid off at least until the end of the year.

Mike Mullin, a spokesman for Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., said a machine that makes the material used to line cardboard boxes would be shut down between Thursday and the end of the year. The first 22 workers will be laid off Nov. 10, and another 30 will follow suit a week later.

Mullin said a similar announcement was made Wednesday at one of the company’s plants in Canada. He didn’t say why Smurfit was planning layoffs other than the decision was “market related.”

Roy Houseman, president of Local 885, which represents workers at Smurfit’s Missoula plant, said the shutdown involves a smaller, older machine that produces about 550 tons daily of the material called linerboard.

“This is a very personal issue,” he said. “I’m one of the people who is getting laid off, and I just bought a house.”

It was unclear if the machine would eventually be used again or if the workers would be able to return to work. The Missoula facility has 370 hourly workers and 70 employees in management.