200 workers at the Lincoln Paper and Tissue Mill this week were given their walking papers. The entire Pulp and Paper division is being shut down, although the Tissue operation will continue on. The company president says it’s a temporary shutdown, but that he has no idea when the operation will be back up and running.

Reportedly this shutdown is due to last month’s boiler explosion at the mill. While the explosion was covered by insurance, it’s not believed to be financially beneficial to rebuild at this time.

Governor Paul LePage issued a press release today in which he pledged the Administration’s support to the workers.

“Our Administration is going to do everything it can to help these millworkers,” said Governor LePage. “The explosion at the mill was extremely unfortunate, and we stand ready to assist in investing in the facility. In addition, Lincoln Paper and Tissue has received a multi-million dollar fine, far beyond the alleged wrongdoing. As a result of this very aggressive penalty that treats the mill like a sophisticated energy trader hundreds of hardworking Mainers have been affected and are now out of a job two weeks before Christmas. We need rational policies from the federal government that prevents wrongdoing, but does not put hardworking Mainers out of work.”

On Wednesday morning the Maine Department of Labor’s Rapid Response program began advising and assisting Lincoln Paper and Tissue officials and employees. The Rapid Response team will work to safeguard the economic stability of workers and the surrounding community while informing the employer and employees of their rights, responsibilities, and obligations.  Affected workers or their families should contact the Bangor CareerCenter, which serves Penobscot County, at http://www.mainecareercenter.com/ .

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette will attend a meeting in Lincoln Thursday scheduled by Lincoln Paper and Tissue officials.

"The Department of Labor stands ready to assist these workers through our Rapid Response staff, our CareerCenters, and our unemployment system. Our staff will do everything possible to help those affected and help them through this difficult time," she said.