Ilion, N.Y. — Six months after storied gunmaker Remington announced it would open a plant in Alabama and add 2,000 jobs, the company has laid off more than 100 workers at its Ilion, NY., facility.
The 107 furloughs took effect last month; the company’s director of public affairs, Teddy Novin, said in an email they were the result of a “strategic business decision and softening market.”
The layoffs follow Remington’s February announcement that it would expand into Alabama, a move that will create over 2,000 jobs in the next decade.
That announcement led to immediate speculation as to the company’s future in New York state, and the layoffs last month add to those concerns.
“I thought they were here to stay forever,” Herkimer County resident Gregory Austin told WSYR-TV. “Everybody is unsure now.”
The layoffs also reinforced widespread opinion that New York’s passage of the controversial SAFE Act gun control laws – which made illegal Remington’s best-selling firearm, the .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle – led to the expansion in Alabama and, now, the job cuts in New York.
Congressman Richard Hanna, whose district includes Remington’s Ilion plant, called the SAFE Act “terribly flawed” and contended it’s responsible for the company’s recent moves.
“This is a loss of real, good-paying jobs in our community and it is a travesty,” Hanna said in a statement.
Jeff Bishop, a spokesman for state Sen. James Seward, said 75 percent of the job cuts are the product of Remington’s expansion to Alabama, and the others due to market conditions.
Seward, R-Oneonta, earlier this year pointed to the SAFE Act as the biggest factor behind the Alabama expansion.
“Clearly, the SAFE Act played a role (in the Alabama expansion), hindering efforts to bring this expansion to New York.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, responding to questions about the Remington layoffs, disputed the notion that the SAFE Act was a factor.
“They (Remington) are consolidating their operations among all states,” he said.
A spokesman for Cuomo maintained earlier this year on the heels of Remington’s Alabama announcement that no jobs were leaving the state.
“Some are misinformed, others gleefully spreading misinformation, but to be clear, no Remington jobs are leaving NY,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said on Twitter.
Remington officials, too, have criticized the SAFE Act, which the company said on its Facebook page they believe is “unconstitutional and passed in a questionable fashion.”
And Assemblyman Marc Butler (R-C-I Newport) said many of the layoffs involve the company’s Bushmaster production. “I believe they’re sending a message here to New York,” he said.
Madore said the SAFE Act “definitely took a toll. There is no reason for us to lose jobs to Alabama.”
Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, said in a prepared statement: “We cannot forget what has pushed Remington to this point – the so-called SAFE Act, and the horrendous business climate in New York. Ill-conceived and anti-firearms policies shoved through without due consideration like Cuomo’s SAFE Act cost jobs.”
Tenney has sponsored legislation calling for the repeal of the SAFE Act.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino appeared outside Remington’s Ilion plant and touted his jobs plan. The Westchester County executive said he’d signed an executive order halting any new business regulations until the existing ones – he says there are 750,000 now on the books – are reviewed.
“I would sit down with the people of Remington – the union members, the workers and the owners and say, ‘Please, give us a little time. As soon as I get in there, we’re going to change things. We want you to stay in New York. We don’t want you to go to Alabama.’”