More than 600 Remington Arms workers were furloughed Thursday. They learned through an email from Remington Outdoor Company CEO, Ken D'Arcy, when they got to work Thursday. They left the plant shortly after learning of the plant-wide furlough, at around 12:30 p.m.
"Hard to believe. Hard to believe," said 21-year employee, Randy Williams, sitting on a stone wall outside the plant, Thursday afternoon. Williams is well acquainted with the rollercoaster of furloughs, shutdowns and uncertainty that has become Remington over the past several years. But he says this time, it feels different, "It's never been like this. Never."
The email said the company had to curtail operations due to liquidity issues, resulting in material shortages. The workers are home with pay through September 29th, so technically, the furlough, which makes them elligible for unemployment, starts September 30th.
Remington Outdoor Company's bankruptcy and auction are currently underway. The good news: many bids are coming in. The potentially bad news: it's not known if they're for the entire company, as a whole, or bits & pieces. The president of UMWA Local 717 union is optimistic the process will end with purchase of the entire company, and the Ilion plant will emerge, still making guns.
"I'm gonna tell you right now, I'm optimistic. We've been making good quality guns out of that place for a long time. The workforce is second to none," said Jeff Madison.
Among those hoping for the best and preparing for the worst-Herkimer County Working Solutions. They say Remington Arms employees are eligible for hefty benefits through a federal retraining program.
"They were approved and made eligible for the trade adjustment assistant program which is what we call the cadillac of training programs. It's a federal program," says Manager, Karin Piseck. "That program offers them a lot of different benefits like training and relocation assitance and income support during training."
While it's good to have a safety net, Remington workers, and even those holding the net, like Piseck, hope Plan A pans out. Especially those not yet old elligible to retire.
"Too young for that and too young to start over. How do you figure? There's no rainbow that I'm looking at on this one. I'm just gonna wait and see. I've got to hang out and see what happens," said Williams.
The CEO, in his email, told workers he planned to update them on what's next by October 12th, but also said dates can be affected by bankruptcy proceedings.