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Schumer backs Albion center

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is pressing the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. to make a long-term commitment to the bank's call center in Albion, hoping to pre-empt any possible concerns about the jobs in light of the deteriorating national economy.

Schumer, D-N.Y., has "personally lobbied" JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon "to give long-term stability" to more than 850 jobs in the facility, which is Orleans County's largest employer, according to a press release Wednesday.

The bank already agreed in January to keep the facility open after it bought the failed Washington Mutual of Seattle last September. And JPMorgan has been widely considered to be among the stronger large national banks, having sidestepped much of the worst losses.

But Schumer noted that the recession and accompanying challenges facing all businesses is forcing many companies to consolidate operations and lay off staff. Just this week, JPMorgan slashed its dividend to 5 cents per share from 38 cents per share to store up $5 billion in extra capital each year, in preparation for worsening conditions.

"In these tough economic times, we want to make sure we cover all bases, and that Albion doesn't get left in the lurch," Schumer said in a separate statement to The Buffalo News. "We know that the jobs are safe now, but we want to make sure they are safe way into the future."

Schumer said in the release that he sought "to impress upon [Dimon] the importance of the Albion call center to Western New York." He also said the Empire State Development Corp. is "willing to work with the company" to keep its operations and jobs in the state, although no specific offer or incentives were cited in the release.

JPMorgan spokesman Michael Fusco confirmed the meeting, adding only that "We appreciate input from elected officials."

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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