Source: Times Union
February 4, 2021
Owner raises prospect of stoppage but union says they have no plans to strike
ILION — Strike? What strike? That’s what officials of the union representing laid-off employees of the Remington Outdoor gun factory here are saying after the company’s new owner raised the prospect of a labor stoppage and subsequent exit from New York State – before the assembly line has even been re-started.
“I was surprised and saddened to see news reports about statements Mr. Richmond Italia apparently made regarding the workforce at the former Remington Arms plant in Ilion, New York. I can only believe that he is unaware of the long and deep commitment people in Central New York have to the jobs at that facility and the communities those jobs support,” Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said in a prepared statement Thursday regarding remarks by the new owner.
“No one wants to see that plant reopen, and reopen as fast as possible, more than the UMWA and the people we represent,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ remarks came after Richmond Italia, who is spearheading the Roundhill Group’s purchase of the gun factory out of bankruptcy court, raised the prospect of a strike by the former workers.
Italia raised the issue in an interview saying “think about it, what is a union’s strength? A union’s strength is to go on strike,” he said.
“That’s really all a union can do. And if they choose to go on strike, that’s the end of New York. We shut the doors, we never open it again,” Italia was quoted as saying in a CNY/Eyewitness News website story.
Italia said they are trying to reopen the plant, which was idled late last year after the prior owners went into bankruptcy.
Since then, Italia and the UMWA have tussled over re-hiring many of the 585 workers who lost their jobs, but there has been no talk of a strike or standstill in talks. In December, Italia had sent letters to many of the former workers laying out terms for coming back to work as the plant re-opens.
That prompted a protest from the UMWA, which contends the terms for re-hiring and re-opening should go through them. But there was no mention of a strike, which couldn’t occur anyway since the plant is currently idled.
Written by: Rick Karlin