Folks in Rhinelander and Mosinee have feared the worst over the past few months, as Wausau Paper and its future got tangled up in a power struggle with its biggest investor. But the United Steelworkers union says the K-P-S deal gives them “cautious optimism” that the two plants can move forward. They employ around 900 workers. K-P-S has also signed a letter-of-intent to buy another company that will be combined with Wausau’s specialty paper operation. The Wausau sale is contingent on the purchase of that firm. Also, the new business would have to ratify collective bargaining agreements with the Steelworkers’ Union – and Wausau Paper would keep its obligations to provide post-retirement benefits, including pensions. Wausau would have the option to own up to 25-percent of the new company.
Wausau Paper put three of its specialty paper mills up for sale in January, during a battle by its largest investor to take control of the firm and sell everything but its tissue paper production. K-P-S would not buy Wausau’s plant in Brainerd Minnesota. That plant is due to close this spring.