ILION, N.Y. – Former Remington Arms workers and community members gathered in Ilion Wednesday to rally against the company, after employees were notified they would not receive the severance and benefits promised in their contracts.
Many carried signs, some saying “Honor the Contract” and “United We Stand with Remington Workers.”
The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the union that represents the Remington workers, organized Wednesday’s rally after union President Cecil E. Roberts called the refusal to pay severance “outrageous” and “a slap in the face” earlier this week.
The workers are hoping this will push the former factory owners to pay what the union says they owe through the collective bargaining agreement.
"Basically, it's to get what's owed. What's owed through the contract. What they promised us, you know. In the contract, they promised us severance pay if we were to get laid off. They promised us payment for our unused vacation time. None of that stuff -- they don't want to pay," said former employee and local union representative, Jeff Madison. "I guess my 19 years in there don't mean nothing to them people."
Another rally is planned Thursday outside Franco’s Pizza, 6 Central Plaza, at 10 a.m.
Local politicians have showed support for Remington workers, including Congressman Anthony Brindisi, Sen. Chuck Schumer and congressional candidate, Claudia Tenney.
Brindisi attended Wednesday's rally, and sent a letter to the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the workers.
“These hard working men and women deserve to be treated with dignity and they deserve the benefits they fought for. Remington is trying to leave this community and these workers high and dry, but we aren’t going to let them. I am calling on the National Labor Relations Board to step in and investigate this issue,” he said.
Tenney, the Republican candidate in the 22nd Congressional District race, also attended the rally.
“I want to say to the Remington workers – you’ve always had my back and I will always have yours. You have made firearms of the highest craftsmanship for generations and you are the heart of our community. This is a tragedy of epic proportions but we will keep fighting for you, your families, and your rights and we will come out stronger," she said. “I’ve spoken to White House officials and they are on top of it. The message has gotten to President Trump. The Treasury Department and Department of Labor are engaged. You will not be forgotten and I will keep fighting for your livelihoods, rights, and our community because it’s the right thing to do.”
Schumer released the following statement on Wednesday as well:
“I stand in solidarity with the men and women of the United Mine Workers of America as they fight for their heard-earned benefits callously stripped away by Remington Arms. Generations of Remington workers in Ilion made billions of dollars in profits for this company and they deserve better. Today, I am calling on Remington to do what’s right and fulfill the commitment they made to their loyal and productive workers. I am also calling on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate whether any laws were violated by this outrageous action.”