ILION — When Mayor Brian Lamica opened Facebook during his lunch period Monday, he learned about gun-maker Remington Firearms’ announcement that it would be moving its global headquarters to Georgia and opening a factory and research operation there.
He got on the phone and started making calls.
Facebook was where RemArms employees at the Ilion plant first learned of the announcement as well.
“There’s an uneasy feeling,” said Chris French, vice president of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local 717, who was called back to work in June after being laid off last September.
CEO Ken D’Arcy said the company is increasing production in Ilion and plans to hire more employees. The decision to invest $100 million in a new facility in LaGrange, Georgia, was made because Georgia is a state that is friendly to both businesses and firearms, he said.
Despite the assurances, there are concerns.
“Naturally this is concerning to our folks because they have already gone through so much over the last year,” said Jacquie Sweeney, president of UMWA Local 717. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”
She has yet to be called back to work, but noted that some of those who are working there now left training opportunities or quit jobs to return to the plant. Some accepted shifts that were not the best schedule for their families.
“Their heart and soul are in this place,” said Sweeney. “At the end of the day, my union brothers and sisters offer the best workforce for the job.”
Her comments echoed one made by Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director John Piseck. "I still think we offer a fantastic workforce here," he said.
“Ilion and Remington, Remington and Ilion go hand in hand,” said Lamica. “There’s a lot of history here.”
He wasn’t overly concerned with where the company’s headquarters were located, pointing out that years ago the headquarters had been moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and then on to other locations. “I get it. The corporate office needs to be close to where they’re selling the products.” He hopes that the jobs in Ilion remain here and more are added.
“It would leave a big hole,” if the company were to move out, he said.
Donna Thompson is the government and business reporter for the Times Telegram. Email her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Times Telegram: Remington Arms HQ move raises concerning for workers, Ilion officials