ILION, N.Y. — “We’ll be out here until we get paid what we are owed,” Jamie Rudwall, United Mine Workers of America District 2 representative, told 100 people at an Oct. 28 rally here. Most were among the 585 workers laid off from their jobs making firearms after Remington Outdoor Company filed for bankruptcy and its owner sold the plant.
“They are not honoring the contractual agreement,” including severance pay for laid-off workers and unused vacation pay, said Jeffrey Madison, UMWA Local 717 president.
“Some of the guys and girls that I work with have life-threatening conditions that they need medications for and now I don’t know how they’re going to get that covered,” Mark Bedworth told the Wall Street Journal. The plant, which is in this town of about 8,000 people, is one of the oldest continuously operating manufacturing sites in the U.S.
“Years ago there was no mandatory overtime. Now we are working 10 hours a day while there are layoffs,” Terry Bates, a 36-year employee, told the Militant. “The [Mohawk] valley is dead. There are no other jobs, just two small factories.”
“They are legally obligated to give us our severance and vacation pay. We will not stop fighting until we get that,” said Jacquie Sweeney, recording secretary for Local 717. The bosses are “filling their pockets and emptying ours. Salaried workers are now doing our jobs.” These rallies, she added, are “to inform others that this can happen to anyone.”
Joe Allen came to the rally from Albany with this reporter, both of us freight rail conductors and members of SMART-TD Local 394. “It’s wrong that people can’t get rid of their student loans in bankruptcy, but an employer can avoid paying obligations that effect hundreds of lives,” Allen said.