ILION — Herkimer County gunmaker Remington Arms is laying off 105 employees this week.
The reduction comes as parent company Remington Outdoor works through a restructuring that includes a new factory in Hunstville, Ala. Since the plant was confirmed in February, it has been speculated by some and assumed by others that Remington’s presence in Ilion will diminish once production ramps up in the South — employment in Huntsville may eventually hit 2,000.
The local plant is Herkimer County’s largest employer; it had a workforce of about 1,300 earlier this year.
In May, Madison, North Carolina-based Remington announced that it would move the Bushmaster rifle and R1 pistol production lines from Ilion to Huntsville starting this summer.
“The latest announcement from Remington Arms, although not unexpected, is still deeply disappointing for our community,” said Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-118, Newport, whose district includes parts of Oneida and Herkimer counties. “This is more than 100 of our friends, neighbors and relatives whose families now face an uncertain future. Our thoughts are with them.”
When the Alabama plant was announced seven months ago, several public official blamed New York’s gun-control law adopted in January 2012, at the urging of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, as a reason why Remington was not expanding in New York. Butler shares this view. He questions why so many of the layoffs involve the Bushmaster firearms line.
“While the company in its statement attributed the job shifts to current market conditions, I believe that the transfer of the Bushmaster line resulted in some part from it falling under the provisions of Gov. Cuomo’s illegal Safe Act,” said the assemblyman in his statement released Monday.
“I have promised to work with company officials, local, state and federal representatives, to ensure a continued presence for Remington Arms in Ilion and the Mohawk Valley.”
Cuomo has defended the law, saying it’s made New York safer after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.