MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Union leaders for laid-off millworkers at Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.'s Frenchtown mill finalized an agreement Tuesday related to severance pay and medical benefits.
The company announced Dec. 14 that it was closing the plant in an effort to cut costs and emerge from bankruptcy protection -- leaving 417 employees without a job. Federal law requires the company to retain employees for 60 days, meaning most or all the workers will be officially terminated Feb.11
Roy Houseman, a spokesman for United Steelworkers Hellgate Local 885, said the union was particularly pleased that Smurfit-Stone agreed to provide a successorship provision at the facility. The provision ensures that current union employees will have the right to return to work should the plant be sold or begin operating as a paper mill again.
"We are pretty happy with the agreement as a whole because it will benefit the most people," Houseman said, though there are no immediate plans to reopen or sell the plant.
Details about medical benefits were not released.