LUKE, Md. - Verso management has told union reps when the Luke Mill ceases production on May 31, “25-50 percent of the workforce will not be needed,” according to United Steel Workers Local 676 president Greg Harvey.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
LUKE, Md. - Verso management has told union reps when the Luke Mill ceases production on May 31, “25-50 percent of the workforce will not be needed,” according to United Steel Workers Local 676 president Greg Harvey.
Less than two weeks after announcing the closure of the Luke paper mill by June 30, Verso announced Friday morning the mill would actually be closing down production on May 31.
Harvey said he received the news in a meeting with Verso upper management at approximately 7:15 a.m. Friday.
The union quickly announced the change in plans on its Facebook page, commenting, “We are not sure how this will be handled and as soon as we receive that information we will post it.”
Harvey told the News Tribune the union has asked Verso for “a written plan for shut down,” and details will continue to be worked out between the union and the company.
The union said in their Facebook post that “the company is obligated to pay wages and benefits through June 30.”
According to Kathi Rowzi, vice president of communications and public affairs for Verso, “The last official day of employment for most mill employees will still be June 30, and each employee’s pay and company-subsidized benefits will continue through that date.
“The last day of work for the majority of employees will now be May 31,”  she said. “A few employees in various departments across the mill will be required to work beyond May 31 to assist with the safe and orderly shutdown of the mill.”
Verso’s Luke mill employs approximately 675 people from Mineral, Allegany and Garrett counties.
The union’s statement this morning went on to encourage all employees to “stay focused on the job at hand. The union’s ultimate goal is to keep the facility in an operational state for a potential sale.”
Harvey said he has heard “another company is showing interest in the facility,” but admits “I don’t know what that might mean.”