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Kaiser lays off 36 employees

The economic slowdown cost 36 Kaiser Aluminum Corp. workers their jobs this week, but a local union president said those sent home could be rehired when business recovers.

Dan Wilson, head of Local 3358 of the United Steelworkers of America, said those affected by the layoff were in their 60-day probationary periods.

Kaiser had been adding workers at its Trentwood rolling mill and Alutek plants, both in Spokane Valley, and ramping up production to meet demand from the aerospace industry. Wilson said 800 are employed at the rolling mill, where 33 were sent home Wednesday; and 90 at Alutek, down three workers.

Kaiser spokesman Geoff Mordock confirmed the number of layoffs but would not discuss the reason for the cutbacks.

“They’ve told us this would be temporary,” Wilson said, adding, “I don’t know what temporary means.”

He said the strike at the Boeing Co., a major Kaiser customer, accounts for only some of the softness in Kaiser sales.

Kaiser has invested $140 million in upgrades at Trentwood, and Wilson said the new equipment has worked well.

“They’ve done a good job of positioning themselves for the future,” he said.