Sealaska lays off workers

Posted: Friday, May 04, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Sealaska Corp. laid off 12 people this week in an effort to reduce staff.

The move comes as the Juneau-based regional Native corporation is trying to recover from a $122 million loss last year.

''I think all the people who are employees at Sealaska were expecting the other shoe to drop,'' said Sealaska board chairman Al Kookesh.

The board approved reductions in the 100-person staff Saturday, but instructed CEO Chris McNeil Jr. not to say who would be laid off until it was done, Kookesh said.

The layoffs included workers at the Juneau headquarters, SeaCal limestone mine, Sealaska Timber Corp. and the Seattle office, Kookesh said. McNeil informed employees in Juneau on Wednesday, then went to the Seattle office to tell employees there Thursday.

The layoffs come as a result of Sealaska's change in operating and strategic direction, McNeil said from Seattle.

Sealaska is also cutting back spending on travel, attorneys and other expenses by about 10 percent, Kookesh said.

The corporation is still trying to sell its plastics manufacturing operation and limestone mine, which are responsible for some of the corporation's 2000 loss.

After an operating loss of $22 million last year, Tri-Quest Precision Plastics is showing improvement, making it more attractive to potential bidders, Kookesh said.

Sealaska is one of 13 regional Native corporations created after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed in 1971. The corporation has about 16,000 shareholders.

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