UPDATE: FutureMark Manistique employees accept pay cut

MANISTIQUE — The FutureMark Manistique paper mill may have been forced to close if employees hadn’t voted to accept a pay cut this week.

We first reported the pay cut on Thursday, and the wife of a FutureMark Manistique employee has commented on the story on Facebook.

She tells us, “…yes, they voted for the wage cut. it was either that or the doors close. and no job. unemployment wouldn’t have paid the bills, and a lot of the workers are so close to retirement age, they never would have found a job else where, it would also have meant a lose of health benefits, which a lot of us could not be with out. yes, it really sucks that they hare having a wage cut yet again, the last one in 2011, but we will just tighten our belts, and try to make it work.”

FutureMark Manistique president Matthew Nightingale spoke with us over the phone this afternoon. He tells us the future of the mill did not hinge upon the outcome of the vote by United Steelworkers members on Wednesday.

Nightingale says they accepted a 4% pay cut and the elimination of a 401(k) match of 2% of their pay that the company had been making. The cuts will take effect in mid-September.

He says the Manistique mill is making progress with an extensive restructuring plan to improve its operations and lower its costs. Nightingale says the plan includes many different elements. He tells us no one element, including the wage and benefits reduction, would be enough to make the restructuring plan fail.

A different FutureMark paper mill, in Alsip, Illinois, will close in early September due to high energy costs and insurmountable market conditions.