With its sprawling plant, big work force and deep history, Remington
Arms' condition gets a lot of attention.
"It's amazing how much one industry can effect a whole community,"
said Patricia Waszkiewicz, a part-time employee at The Pet Factory, a
shop in the gunmaker's shadow. "If something were to happen, it would
kill this area really bad."
As Remington and NRG Energy battle in court over the steam supply
that fuels the manufacturing at Herkimer County's biggest employer,
residents and businesses are expressing some uneasiness, though not
alarm. Remington says NRG's plan to cut steam threatens to close the
Historically, Remington has been one of the major contributors to the
Valley United Way's fall campaign, Executive Director Steve Canipe
said. For the last two years, Remington has contributed 10 percent,
or roughly $20,000, to the campaign, he said.
While it may still be too premature to speak of layoffs or closures,
Canipe said if Remington's support ended, it could affect some 20
service agencies the organization supports.
"We probably would have to cut allocations to some agencies to make
up for their contribution," he said. "Some services might ultimately
have to be cut."
The past 25 years have seen big transitions for Remington: a
declining work force, new ownership, new labor representation and
energy disputes. But the work force has remained stable since the
1990s and the company is still landing big contracts - it has a deal
to deliver high-level sniper weapons to the U.S. military, to be used
in the Middle East, by Nov. 15.
Remington says NRG wants to charge significantly more for its steam
or turn it off. NRG says its Ilion operation is losing money and that
Remington can step in and run the boiler if need be. A judge will
hear from the sides again this week.
After wrapping up his shift on Friday, Remington employee Wayne
Monroe said he was not too familiar with the lawsuit, but that among
workers there was no fear of a work stoppage.
"They have not told us there was going to be a shut down," he said.
If the two-week shutdown each summer is any indication of what life
would be like if Remington Arms closed, Waszkiewicz said she hopes
the company is able to overcome any issues that could jeopardize its future.
"During those two weeks, the town goes dead," the Ilion resident
said, shaking her head. "If that were the case all the time, no other
(business) would be able to survive."
Mayor John Gilmartin said he was watching the legal battle but isn't
overly alarmed. A shutdown, if it did occur, he said, would be
catastrophic to the village and region as a whole.
Remington at one point produced 20 percent of the village's tax
revenue, he said. Total annual property taxes, including county,
town, school and village, are about $200,000.
Losing Remington would put a chokehold on business, said Jeff
Stephenson, owner of Swan Pools, located nearby the plant.
"It would affect the whole valley," Stephenson said. "A lot of people
use that as a barometer of business," he said.
Company layoffs in the past had a negative impact on the village,
said George Maley, a longtime village resident, but nothing in
comparison to what would happen if Remington were to halt production.
"You hate to see any fixture as old as Remington having problems," Maley said.
When word begins to circulate about possible problems with any
industry in the area, Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce President
David LaValla admitted it's hard not to get nervous.
"It always makes you worry anytime there is talk of layoffs," he
said. "But any loss, (at Remington) would be huge."
Despite the hundreds of what he called "quality jobs" at stake,
LaValla said the ripple effect on the economy would go beyond mere
employment numbers and trickle into neighboring communities including
"Many employees live there as well," he said. "Without those jobs,
everyone would feel the loss."
Focusing on the positives, LaValla said the chamber will continue to
work with Remington to ensure the cornerstone of the Ilion community
remains a mainstay in the area.
With the factory in clear view from the small window inside The
Medicine Shoppe, pharmacy employee Marlene Tayler said anything that
affects the county's biggest employer is sure to have a big impact on
"If people don't have jobs, they aren't going to buy things," she
said. "If small businesses are not making money, then they aren't
going to be able to afford to buy things either. It's all connected,
especially in a small village like this."
Despite the obvious concern about the company's viability and the
economic connection to the community, the Ilion resident, whose
husband has worked at the factory for the last year and a half, said
she is confident that the overall outlook will still be OK.
"Remington has been around a long time," she said. "If they need to
keep it going, I'm sure they'll find a way to make it work."
Remington Arms and its steam supplier, NRG Energy, are expected to
meet before state Supreme Court Justice Michael E. Daley for a
conference Wednesday in Utica.
Daley earlier this month granted a temporary restraining order,
ruling that NRG must continue to supply steam to Remington while the
court reviews the case.
Here are some of the paraphrased arguments each side makes in their
Remington Arms: Without steam, the Ilion plant will shut down. With
the exception of a minor division, all of the production will come to
a halt if defendants are permitted to violate the steam purchase agreement.
NRG Energy: Remington has the right immediately to "step in" and
begin operating an auxiliary boiler to satisfy its own steam needs.
Remington: In order to lawfully terminate its obligations under the
steam purchase agreement, Indeck Ilion must give three years' notice.
Remington never authorized any transfer of Indeck Ilion's obligations
under the steam purchase agreement to NRG Energy.
NRG Energy: Remington has readily accepted steam from NRG Ilion under
the steam agreement and at no point before this litigation has anyone
from Remington informed NRG Director of Asset Management Alan Sawyer
that it was contesting the validity of the agreement.
Remington: NRG Energy will cause its Ilion site to stop generating
steam if Remington doesn't agree to its unreasonable financial demands.
NRG Energy: To continue its operations, NRG Ilion has had to borrow
from NRG Energy - now $7 million worth. During the fiscal year, NRG
Ilion lacks capital to cover its operating expenses and needs $4
million to do so. NRG Energy isn't able to loan the those funds.