St. Marys Paper's laid-off union workers call for decisions on shuttered paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, while company said to pursue financing for C$135M cogeneration plant

LOS ANGELES , October 13, 2011 () – Laid-off union members from the shuttered St. Marys Paper Corp. paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, want to see decisions made about the facility and plan to meet Oct 18 to review the situation, said a senior union official, The Sault Star reported Oct. 12.

The mill shut down indefinitely March 28 and workers had expected the company to restart in the fall. The mill has operated only four of the past 20 months.

CEO Dennis Bunnell said on Oct. 12 that he can’t offer a specific timeline for the reopening of the mill but is working on “a number of parties, all of them have to do with their own process of due diligence,” The Sault Star reported Oct. 13.

Bunnell also wrote the workers a letter July 6 that the company was working on re-capitalization and expected to complete it within six weeks. The end of August, he said there was no schedule in place for the recapitalization, The Sault Star reported.

Workers are frustrated, and the union's collective agreement spells out possible grievance procedures, said Kim Ginter, Ontario Region VP of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union of Canada (CEP).

The CEP represents 200 workers at the mill, The Sault Star reported.

In his July letter, Bunnell said the company had signed a letter of intent with an experienced energy producer to build a C$135 million, 35 megawatt cogeneration plant proposed for the mill, adding due diligence was underway.

In November 2010, St. Marys Renewable Energy Corp. signed a 10-year power purchase agreement to sell electricity from the cogeneration facility to the Ontario Power Authority, reported The Sault Star.

Since then, St. Marys has been working to raise the money to proceed.

The primary source of this article is The Sault Star, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on Oct. 12, 2011.

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