About 300 workers at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay will have their last day of work at the mill in mid-December after receiving layoff notices last week, a spokesman for Verso Corp. said Monday.

The mill on Saturday shut down the second of two machines it had said would be turned off when the company announced plans in August to reduce production capacity.

“I wouldn’t be saying the truth if I didn’t say there were a lot of disappointed and long faces,” Bill Cohen, manager of communications and public affairs for Verso Maine, said Monday. “Everyone is dealing with it a little bit differently.”

Employees scheduled to be laid off were issued notices last week and have 60 days left from the time they received their notices until their last paid work day, Cohen said.

Fewer than 50 employees accepted early retirement packages and about 300 were issued layoff notices, he said.

The No. 1 pulp dryer was shut down several weeks ago, and on Saturday the No. 2 paper machine also was shut down, Cohen said. Two paper machines and a specialty paper machine still are in operation, and the mill will continue to employ about 560 people after the layoffs take effect.

The company first announced the layoffs in August with plans to cut production capacity at the Androscoggin Mill by 150,000 tons of coated paper and 100,000 tons of dried market pulp.

The plan is part of an overall reduction in company production that also includes the indefinite idling of a mill in Wickliffe, Kentucky. Overall the company is reducing production by 430,000 tons of coated paper and 130,000 tons of dried market pulp.

The decision to curb production was related to a decline in demand for coated paper, as well as foreign competition and high operating costs in Maine, including high energy costs and local property taxes, according to a statement from Verso at the time.

Verso also shut down its Bucksport paper mill in January, a decision that led to the layoff of about 500 Maine workers.

The Maine Department of Labor has been working with employees in Jay through its Rapid Response program, which provides assistance to workers facing job loss because of downsizing or closures.

Workers also are waiting to hear whether the U.S. government will approve additional funding for its Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides job training to workers who have been harmed by foreign competition. Funding for the program expired in September.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation have submitted a petition to the U.S. Secretary of Labor asking for the program’s extension on behalf of the Jay workers, but as of Monday no decision had been made.

For now, Verso has no plans to sell the shuttered machines in Jay, Cohen said.

“One never knows. You can always hope (that the machines will run again),” Cohen said, “but we don’t see it right now.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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