Months after a century-old paper mill owned by WestRock closed in Tacoma, Washington, the company is closing a packaging plant in Seattle. According to local media reports, about 87 employees at the Seattle plant will lose their jobs March, when the plant officially closes. The company notified the Washington State Employment Security Department of the layoffs on January 19. Both closures come after a WestRock’s new packaging plant in Longview, Washington, opened last year.
Robby Johnson, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for WestRock, said, the company is closing the Seattle plant because the upgrades made at the Longview plant mean it is better equipped. “The Longview facility is state-of-the-art and provides significant capabilities that allow us to more effectively and efficiently serve our customers in the Pacific Northwest,” Johnson wrote, adding that the company decided to close the Seattle plant more than a year after it announced the opening of the new Longview plant
According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, which regulates activities with potential environmental impacts at the plant, the Longview plant has about 1,000 employees. The Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Union represents employees at the Seattle plant. The union said they could not respond to questions or give a comment. WestRock and the union will engage in the effects bargaining process.
WestRock announced last September that it would merge with the packaging company Smurfit Kappa. The fourth quarter earnings presentation for WestRock showed growth for the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization throughout the 2023 fiscal year, with a slight decrease in the fourth quarter.
The company laid off 400 employees in Tacoma when the WestRock paper mill there closed. Johnson said he didn’t know how many of those employees were relocated to positions at the Longview plant.