Almost 600 employees at the Remington Arms plant in Ilion, New York, were told Friday that they would be terminated effective Monday, the local union said.
The Remington Outdoor Company is also refusing to pay severance and accrued vacation benefits, according to a statement from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the union that represents the workers.
Remington is obligated to pay severance and vacation benefits under a collective bargaining agreement, UMWA officials said.
Remington is terminating 585 employees, according to UMWA.
Ilion, a small Herkimer County village of 8,000 people, is the birthplace of America’s oldest gunmaker, which first started making guns there in 1816.
“This outrageous action by Remington Outdoor company is a slap in the face to the employees who built that company into the best firearms manufacturer in the world,” UMWA International president Cecil E. Roberts, said in a statement.
“UMWA Local Union 717 has already filed a series of grievances under our collective bargaining agreement, and the UMWA International Union is exploring further legal action.”
The sale of the Remington plant in Ilion to Roundhill Group, LLC was approved late last month in federal bankruptcy court as part of the Remington Outdoor Company bankruptcy case, according to court documents.
“We are now working with the new company to get the plant reopened and start putting our members back to work,” the union continued.
“But the old, failed Remington had one more kick in the pants for our members. If they think they can get away with this without a fight from the UMWA they had better think again. Our members in Local Union 717 earned those benefits.”
Court documents show the assets of Remington Outdoor Company, which has sites in Ilion, Alabama, North Carolina and Arkansas, were to be sold to four different bidders with three backup bids.
Claudia Tenney, former U.S. representative and Republican candidate for New York’s 22nd District, said she was saddened to hear the news that the employees were let go. Tenney was endorsed by the UMWA 717 for Congress.
“I personally reached out to both the White House and the Treasury Department and appealed to them for help in this hour of great need for the workers and their families,” Tenney said in a statement.
“I will keep fighting to get them the resources they need to get through this and come out stronger. The Ilion plant in Herkimer County has been making products of the highest craftsmanship since 1816 and has proven to be a vital asset to our community, our economy and our nation.”
Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, who is facing Tenney for the 22nd district seat, also spoke out against the news, calling it “an affront to union jobs everywhere.”
“The hardworking men and women at the Remington factory in Ilion made a quality product for generations,” Brindisi said in a statement.
“This betrayal of the rights their union fought for is unacceptable and cannot stand. I stand with the UMWA Local Union 717 workers and as their representative in Congress I am ready and willing to fight for them and the rights they collectively bargained for.”
Vincent Bono, chairman of the Herkimer County Legislature, said Roundhill representatives were expected to be in Ilion this week and he is in the process of setting up a meeting with them to see where things stand.
Bono said he had heard Roundhill has plans to bring back around 400 employees.
The chairman said Roundhill still had some work to do before they could reopen the Ilion plant. He said Roundhill is in the process of acquiring a Federal Firearms License (FFL) which is required for them to make guns.
Bono said the application process takes 60-90 days.
“They really can’t make any firearms until they get it,” he said.
Ed Harris is the Oneida County reporter for the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New Y
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Remington Arms bankruptcy: Oldest US gunmaker lays off 585 in New York