Union President: More than 100 laid off at Remington plant in Ilion

Published 08/18 2014 04:56PM

Updated 08/19 2014 12:00AM

Ilion (WSYR-TV) - The fear of job cuts at Remington Arms had followed families in Ilion for months.

"I thought they were here to stay forever," said Herkimer County resident Gregory Austin. "Everybody is unsure now."

On Monday, layoffs were announced at the Herkimer County plant in the middle of the afternoon, according to union president Fran Madore, with UMWA Local 717.

Two hours earlier, around 12:30 p.m., Madore said he was told there would be roughly 105 layoffs in Ilion.

"New York State could have stepped up a long time ago and it didn't happen," Madore said.

In February, Remington Arms confirmed plans to open a plant in Huntsville, Alabama, where they would add 2,000 jobs. 

At the time, opponents of tougher guns laws criticized Governor Cuomo, insisting New York would be less attractive to the gun manufacturer. They expressed concern that the Alabama expansion spelled trouble for Ilion.

On February 15, spokesperson Rich Azzopardi fired back with a Tweet: "Some are misinformed, others gleefully spreading misinformation, but to be clear, no Remington Jobs are leaving N.Y."

Months later, Madore remembered the early reassurances during a long day at the plant on Monday.

"Obviously, it did have an effect on us. Hopefully this will stop. I don't have a crystal ball to tell you that," Madore said. He later elaborated, "The SAFE Act definitely took a toll. There is no reason for us to lose jobs to Alabama."

Assemblyman Marc Butler said company officials told him the move is a business decision, based on market conditions. Still, he questions why so many layoffs involve the Bushmaster line.

"Essentially Remington would be manufacturing a product that at some point would not be able to be sold in New York State. I believe they're sending a message here to New York," Assemblyman Butler said.

The governor's office offered no comment on Monday. But, the Assemblyman who represents a large portion of Herkimer County did offer his own optimism.

"I think people who are saying this means the end is coming are wrong. I think there is still some opportunity there for Remington to continue to be there. I think we need to work very hard to see that that happens," Assemblyman Butler said.

For Austin and his neighbors, reassurances feel less reliable.

"I know a lot of people from around the area and most of them have somebody in the family or friends that are employed there," said Herkimer County resident Brandon Davis. "Jobs are already short enough and with them moving more jobs out, it's not a good thing at all."

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