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Gildan closing apparel factory in Clarence, cutting 80 jobs

The Clarence plant formerly known as New Buffalo Shirt Factory is closing, eliminating about 80 jobs.

The layoffs are set to go into effect starting June 1, said Genevieve Gosselin, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based Gildan. Gildan two years ago acquired New Buffalo Shirt Factory in Clarence and its operating affiliate in Honduras for $7 million.

Gildan will consolidate the Clarence plant’s screen printing in Honduras, where textile and sewing operations also are located, Gosselin said. The change will help the company “achieve a more efficient supply chain,” she said.

Gildan will provide affected employees from the Clarence plant with severance packages and will provide services to them to help them find new jobs.

“This was a difficult decision for us,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the hard work and the quality of the people who work there.”

New Buffalo Shirt Factory gained recognition for printing images on apparel for famous touring rock bands, as well as World Wrestling Entertainment, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Co. Its plant is located near the Elegant Builders Raceway Park in Lancaster.

Clarence Town Supervisor David Hartzell Jr. said the impending closing of the plant reflects New York’s struggle to keep lower-paying factory jobs in the face of competition from countries like Honduras, and amid pressure to hike the state’s minimum wage.

Hartzell said that until, New York State leaders decide that keeping low-wage jobs is a priority, they will continue to flow to other countries.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can work as a doctor in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus or as a judge in the shiny new Robert H. Jackson courthouse,” he said.