County opens office near Orion tomorrow to help affected workers

WHITESTOWN — Efforts to aid Orion Bus workers facing layoffs as production winds down in the next 12 months begins tomorrow.

Representatives of the Oneida County Office of Workforce Development and Working Solutions will set up shop at the county Traffic Safety Building on Base Road, just a short walk from the Orion facilities, to provide information and assistance outreach to employees. Representatives of the state Department of Labor also will be on hand.

Daimler Buses announced last week that it was going to stop making Orion buses as the company abandons the North American intracity transit bus business. The Whitestown location is the final assembly point for all Orion buses. In its place, Daimler will operate only a parts and service facility in the business park, at an undisclosed reduced employment level.

There were about 480 employees in Whitestown last week.

As the layoffs unfold, County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said Orion workers are going to need information and assistance as they deal with uncertainty.

"This action establishes an emergency response station at our STOP-DWI offices that can be operated for the long haul to answer questions workers have," he said. "The Office of Workforce Development will be the county’s lead contact and will work in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board, the state and our other partners to help workers and their families sort through options and develop plans for the future."

Initially, staff will be at the offices to answer questions about both the process and the potential benefits and services that could be available to employees. Picente said that Working Solutions staff will have career planning information available, as well as information about education and training programs, so that workers and their families can discuss options.

Additionally, the Mid-York Library System will bring its portable computer lab to the site to assist workers with computer skills training and resume development.

"The most important message we can give these families and our workers right now is that there is a team here, and that all of us are going to dedicate a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of manpower to make sure that we are there every step of the way for these workers and their families," said Picente.