By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
The noise level should return to normal next week for residents who live in the area of the Carriage House facility on Talcott Street in the city of Dunkirk.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
The Carriage House facility on Talcott Street in the city of Dunkirk was idled last week as employees were told to not report for work.
The Talcott Street plant was closed Thanksgiving week, with more than 100 employees being told not to report to work. With production of the pourable and spoonable dressings and sauces the plant makes, set to cease at the facility in March, perhaps the quiet was a harbinger of things to come.
A spokesman at Ralcorp headquarters in Missouri said he could not comment on the company's operations and would make no comment on future plans for the facility.
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the future of the facility is "most definitely a concern of ours."
"There was a meeting last week, again just showing our support and basically letting the officials know we're here to help in any way, shape or form we can," he added.
"We had a big meeting ... about six weeks ago with Senator Young, Assemblyman Goodell and Empire State Development and basically the same thing - we're here to help. Let us know if we can help with this, that, or whatever. We're committed. We'll want to give them the same type of attention that we've given to NRG, to show that we're here to help."
Dolce said there hadn't been much communication with the company's corporate level decision makers.
"With the NRG situation we had a great deal of back and forth with corporate and local officials," he explained. "Not as much with the Carriage House folks, but we're definitely reaching out and willing to hear what they have to say. But there's not as much dialogue as we've had with NRG."
Dolce said it was a different situation.
Thomas Dickerson is the president of Chapter 266 NCFO/ SEIU32BJ, the union which serves workers at the local Carriage House facilities. In September he sounded the alarm with a letter to area officials, which he also provided the OBSERVER.
Dickerson said the Talcott Street facility has not been shut down, but he had no facts other than being told no one could be in the plant for the week. The union has a total of 439 members, counting both those working at the Talcott Street facility and the Carriage House on Newton Street in Fredonia. The union's contract with Carriage House expires in 2015 and Dickerson said the average of the members was 47.
With the Carriage House expansion in Buckner, Ky. including a peanut butter line, the future of the company in the area is questionable. Both New York state and the federal government have similar versions of a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
The state's version requires businesses to give early warning of closing and layoffs. According to the act, businesses must give notice to all affected employees; any employee representative(s); the state Department of Labor (DOL) and the Local Workforce Investment Board (LWIB).
According to the state website, the WARN Act applies to private businesses with 50 or more full-time workers in New York state. It covers closings affecting 25 or more workers; mass layoffs involving 25 or more full-time workers (if the 25 or more workers make up at least 33 percent of all the workers at the site); mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time workers and certain other relocations and covered reductions in work hours.
This means that covered businesses must provide all employees with notice 90 days prior to a plant closing, mass layoff, relocation and other covered reduction in work hours. Businesses that do not provide notice may be required to pay back wages and benefits to workers and pay a civil penalty.
The federal WARN Act requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. Generally, WARN covers employers with 100 or more employees, not counting those who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months and those who work an average of less than 20 hours a week.
According to a federal WARN Act website, advance notice gives workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other jobs, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to compete successfully in the job market.
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