Carthage Specialty Paper Plans Temporary LayoffsPosted: Updated:
50 to 60 workers at Carthage Specialty Paperboard in West Carthage will be laid off for a week, according to the union which represents workers at the company.
A source with direct knowledge of the layoffs said they will likely take place next week.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the company called the layoffs part of a "planned, limited" outage of the plant's paper machine, expected to last 5-7 days.
Chief operating officer Pat Purdy said any suggestion the plant is closing indefinitely is "false and without merit."
Purdy said that while the machine is shut down, "we will perform normal maintenance and install several upgraded pieces of equipment to enhance our production capabilities."
Shutting the plant down for maintenance is, by itself, not cause for alarm, United Steelworkers representative Ridgeway said.
But Ridgeway said he's concerned because of the company's track record and lack of transparency.
Carthage Specialty Paper is owned by DeltaPoint Capital Management, a Rochester-based private equity investment firm that also owned the now-defunct Climax Manufacturing in Lowville.
Climax closed its doors suddenly a little over a year ago.
Ridgeway says the union has reached out to Carthage Specialty Paper several times over the last year.
"Didn't hear back from them, 'Yea, we'd like to talk to you about this that or the other thing.' We also didn't hear back from them saying, 'Hey, everything's okay.' So we've got concerns just with lack of dialog. And that's kind of reminiscent of the way Climax, Lowville, went down," Ridgeway said.
"On one hand, they're saying it's a maintenance shutdown. Ok, and if it is truly a maintenance shutdown, then you'd have all of your maintenance department work, but we've got like a total of 50 guys there, and now we're hearing they're gonna lay off all 50. Well, quite frankly, that's not a maintenance shutdown, that's a shutdown."
Adding to employee jitters, Carthage Specialty has struggled to stay current on loans it has with the Development Authority of the North Country, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, the North Country Alliance, the North Country Economic Development Fund and the village of Carthage. In all, the company owes about $880,000 to the public entities. The Watertown Times first reported the debt earlier this month..
The company was 60 days behind on the payments, the newspaper reported.