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Amy Neff Roth
ILION — Remington Arms Co. has laid off 122 workers at its Ilion plant due to slowing sales.
“The small arms industry is facing significant near-term challenges related to slowing order velocity and high channel inventories; a dynamic from which Remington is not immune,” said a statement from Jessica Kallam, Remington’s manager of media relations and public affairs. “After exploring all the options available to us, we are compelled to reduce our work force by releasing 122 team members today at our Ilion, N.Y. site. As we move forward, we will continue to monitor all segments of the business for growth opportunities.”
The layoffs include about 110 members of the United Mine Workers of America Local 717, said union spokesman Phil Smith.
Prior to Wednesday's layoffs, Remington's Ilion plant employed about 1,100. The company also laid off 231 Ilion workers in August and November of 2014, some of them due to the consolidation of plants at a new facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
“We depend heavily on Remington for our economic well-being here in the Mohawk Valley," said state Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport. "However, they assured me this is a decision driven by market forces and it has no reflection on the overarching changes at Remington.”
Butler said the firearms industry has been linked to the political climate.
“There was a belief we would have a Democratic administration and many sportsmen thought that could result in additional gun-control measures,” Butler said. “I think, ironically, that boosted demand for firearms over the last period. Now that we have a Republican administration, that impulse has kind of (decreased).”
A group from Herkimer Working Solutions Career Center will head to the plant Thursday to work with those affected by the layoffs, said Manager Karin Piseck, who will be in that group. It also will include representatives from the Department of Labor and the Workforce Development Institute, and a health care navigator to answer questions about health insurance.
The group also will offer information on filing for unemployment, on services they can find at the local career center and on training opportunities, Piseck said.
Newly elected Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, expressed concern.
“This is upsetting. It’s very troubling that 122 of our neighbors have lost their jobs due to poor economic policies pushed by Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo and Assembly Democrats as well as the SAFE Act,” he said. “Make no mistake, there is a direct correlation. My staff and I remain fully committed to helping those affected by layoffs and will assist them and their families in any way we can.”
U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R—New Hartford, said: “My office is committed to helping all affected, and I encourage those who have been laid-off to contact our office if they are in need of assistance with the federal government. In the future, I look forward to continuing my advocacy for the employees of Remington Arms in Congress, and I hope to speak with Remington’s management soon to discuss ways to bring jobs back to the Ilion plant.
"Economic downturns in the firearms industry coupled with a decrease in sales have forced Remington to reduce staff to remain competitive. Failed economic and anti-Second Amendment policies in New York have continued to burden Remington’s Ilion facility, making it difficult for the plant to remain competitive," she said.
Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Steve Smith said he had not heard anything directly from Remington.
“They’re a very private company,” he said. “We would do anything we could to help them.”
He added that it would be a difficult time for the workers being laid off and their families.
“Those are good paying jobs,” he said.
Contributing: Donna Thompson, Herkimer Times-Telegram
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