Longtime KPly employees wonder about next step

PORT ANGELES — Employees of the KPly Inc. plywood mill say they are in limbo in the wake of Friday’s 60-day layoff notice from the company.

The 67-year-old mill, which had announced temporary closures in November, told its 132 workers on Leap Day that it would close and they would be permanently laid off.

John Cooter, who began working at the mill in 1969 when it was still Peninsula Plywood, the employee cooperative, said he already has been looking for new work.

“I was the lead pipefitter down there,” he said.

“I have a skill, and I think it is a marketable skill.

“I was only hanging on because I have a loyalty to the company, but if I’m out — I’m out.”

Cooter has worked at the mill through two name and ownership changes.

The mill was originally built as a worker-owned operation in 1941, known as Peninsula Plywood, or PenPly.

In 1971, the employee shareholders sold their ownership to ITT Rayonier, which operated the mill until 1989.

KPly has been owned since May 1989 by Klukwan Inc., a corporation formed by residents of the tribal Klukwan Village of southeast Alaska.

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