Craig village corporation fires 89 workers

Shaan-Seet officials say they're reshaping the corporation

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2000

KETCHIKAN - Citing poor logging production levels, a Craig-based village Native corporation has fired most of its workers.

Shaan-Seet terminated all of its employees in its timber, contract, road building, rock and shop divisions. About 89 workers were fired and only 11 office workers remain, said Webster Demmert, president and chief executive officer of Shaan-Seet.

Shaan-Seet blamed the firings on ``the ongoing depressed timber industry'' and said in a news release it planned to change how it does business.

``The primary purpose for this action is to take steps to restructure our timber harvest and contract logging divisions for more efficient operations,'' the release stated.

Demmert, elected Shaan-Seet president in October, would not outline how the corporation plans to restructure. He told the Ketchikan Daily news the firings were ``one of the options that was presented to me and we felt it would be the way to completely restructure our company the way that we want to see it.''

The restructuring should be complete by the end of January, he said.

Shaan-Seet was one of the largest employers on Prince of Wales Island in 1999, according to the Alaska Department of Labor.

``We still will be. We are just restructuring,'' Demmert said.

Although Shaan-Seet fired its entire timber work force, the corporation intends to remain a player in the industry.

``This was a very difficult decision for us to make, especially in light of other elements that have detrimentally affected the economy of the Prince of Wales Island, but we are optimistic that once the restructuring is completed, Shaan-Seet Inc. will be in a position to be a part of the timber industry for many years to come,'' the release stated.

Shaan-Seet included the letter of ``immediate termination'' with employees' paychecks. The Jan. 7 termination letter stated that once Shaan-Seet restructured it would advertise positions with the company. But employees were told not to expect their old jobs back.

``Our goal is to reduce our operating expenses, and the effect of this restructuring will therefore reduce the number of available positions,'' the termination letter stated. ``We are NOT able to guarantee that a position will be available to any particular employee.''

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