Boise Cascade to lay off employees at the Elgin Plywood facility in February

Jan. 6—ELGIN — Boise Cascade announced it is planning to lay off employees at the Elgin Plywood mill by mid-February.

The company publicly disclosed the layoffs through a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification on Tuesday, Dec. 27, but as of Jan. 6 had not released any additional information. A letter was sent to outgoing Elgin Mayor Risa Hallgarth and to the state's dislocated worker unit earlier in December.

"I'm really sad that they are having to do layoffs," Hallgarth said.

Companies with 100 or more employees are required by law to notify affected workers 60 days prior to any closures or layoffs. The Elgin Plywood WARN notice is classified as a large layoff, which is a layoff affecting 10 or more employees, according to the Oregon Dislocated Worker Rapid Response Activity Track System.

The details and scope of the layoffs remain unknown. Communications Director Lisa Tschampl said Boise Cascade had no comments on the WARN notice at this time.

Elgin City Administrator Brock Eckstein said these layoffs seem to happen every few years. Around 21% of Elgin residents are employed at the plywood facility, he said, so any layoffs have a big financial impact on the town.

"The whole city of Elgin feels it," he said.

The plywood facility, which opened in 1964, employees around 230 workers.

The last time Boise Cascade announced the possibility of layoffs at the Elgin plant was in 2020 when the company disclosed that it might need to reduce employee hours or even temporarily close the facility in January 2021 due to a permitting dispute with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality over dioxin-contaminated wastewater.

The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in August 2021, according to DEQ representative Laura Gleim.

Employees affected by the upcoming layoffs were notified by Dec. 14, according to the WARN notice. All affected employees are members of Local 2780 Carpenters Industrial Council and union representatives were also notified.

Layoffs are expected to begin on Feb. 19 or within 14 days from that date.

"Employment is likely to end at the end of the employee's last shift prior to Feb. 19, 2023, but it may occur sooner or later depending upon the business need to maintain workers as the full impact of the business downturn becomes known," the WARN notice read.

Nick Smith, public affairs director at the American Forest Resource Council, said it is not uncommon to see plywood business to slow down during the winter.

"Plywood markets are down right now, which is not unusual given that markets are cyclical and winter is usually a down time for construction. Certainly there are other pressures that are weighing, probably like fiber supply, rising interested rates, things like increasing costs for transportation," he said.

According to the WARN notice, Boise Cascade does not believe the planned layoffs will reach the threshold that would trigger the WARN requirements but decided to provide the notice nonetheless.

Isabella Crowley is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6014 or