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Lull in firearm sales and transfers to Alabama behind 105 layoffs at Remington Arms

By ANNA MEILER

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Over 100 employees will walk out of Remington Arms Friday, not knowing if they'll ever be back.

"The morale is really low," said union president Fran Madore of UMWA Local 717. "How can anyone be happy about losing 105 jobs? It's not good, not good for the economy, not good for the valley, not good for us."

In May, the firearms manufacturing company announced the transfer of 80 positions to the new plant in Alabama, relocating its Bushmaster and RI-1911 manufacturing.

"That's part of the governor's SAFE Act that we can manufacture them, but we can't sell them in New York State and through a business decision they decided to relocate to Alabama. Alabama is a pretty gun-friendly state," said Madore.

Now, a lull in firearm sales led to the decision to let 25 more people go, with the layoffs affecting employees plant-wide, based on seniority.

"No matter what job you're on, when your number's up, you have to go," said Madore.

Transfers aren't an option says Madore, though laid off employees can apply for the jobs opening in Huntsville. But, with Remington Arms payroll pumping $12 million a month into the local economy, the loss of 100 jobs is a major concern.

"Obviously the people that come in to lunches at local diners and restaurants and barber shops and the oil change places and the mechanics are all going to see an impact and when those benefits run out for those people that's when we all have to work together and try to get those people back re-employed," said Vincent Bono, chairman of the Herkimer County Legislature.

The biggest question: Is this a sign of more bad news to come?

"It's all downhill, so all we can do is hope we hit a ledge and stay there and hopefully we do," said Madore.

Employees that have been at Remington Arms for over a year will receive a severance package. Everyone will be processed out on Friday.

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