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Ingersoll Rand threatens to end manufacturing at Cheektowaga plant

Ingersoll Rand on Tuesday announced its "intent" to end manufacturing operations at its Cheektowaga plant by July, a decision the company said would eliminate 300 jobs.

A union official estimated 150 to 160 hourly workers would be included in the cuts. But Ingersoll Rand left open the possibility of keeping manufacturing going at the site.

"The company is in the process of completing due diligence to make a final decision, including discussions with the union," said Misty Zelent, an Ingersoll Rand spokeswoman.

Ingersoll Rand said it will maintain a technology center at the site with 150 jobs, even if the manufacturing operation is eliminated.

The majority of the production from the Cheektowaga operation, on Broadway near Union Road, would be shifted to Mocksville, N.C., Zelent said. A smaller amount of production capability will be moved to a plant in Vignante, Italy, she said.

"This was a difficult decision as we take all actions that affect our people very seriously," Zelent said. "We are committed to supporting employees with competitive severance packages, on-site employee assistance programs, job placement services and the opportunity to apply for jobs at other company locations."

Zelent said the company will work with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers "to fulfill legal obligations concerning collective bargaining and what the plan means for represented employees."

Peter Cooney, an official with the Machinists union, said Ingersoll Rand had provided "few details, if any" about its plans.

"At this time, we feel it would be premature to comment further until the company provides more information regarding their plans," said Cooney, assistant directing business representative for IAM District 65 and Local 330. "Our immediate concerns are with members of Machinists Local 330, District 65, and their families, as well as the impact this will have on their lives, and this community."

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said Ingersoll Rand's announcement "represents the latest in a growing list of local manufacturing jobs lost at the expense of tax and trade policies that fail to put American workers first. We are experiencing firsthand the failed promises of the GOP tax bill."

Higgins also cited shutdown announcements by Dresser-Rand in Olean, Bak USA in Buffalo, New Era Cap in Derby, and Globe Specialty Metals in Niagara Falls, saying "the corporate tax cuts are not trickling down to hardworking Western New Yorkers and the tariffs are not protecting American jobs. Instead, haphazard policy that favors big business is incentivizing outsourcing and putting people out of work."

A joint statement by State Senator Tim Kennedy, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace and Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said they were sending a letter to Ingersoll Rand, imploring the company to meet with Empire State Development and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

"We are planning to have open dialogues with the company, the union representing these workers, and other community leaders to evaluate what can be done to keep Ingersoll Rand's manufacturing facility open," the statement said.

Ingersoll Rand said it will "retain and continue to invest in" a technology center at the Broadway site. The company said the center will focus on engineering, sales and service and "other customer-facing roles." Ingersoll Rand said the technology center is in addition to its other area operations, which consist of a customer center and two Trane facilities, a brand of the company.

Ingersoll Rand is headquartered in Ireland, and its North American headquarters are in Davidson, N.C. In early 2015, Ingersoll Rand acquired the Broadway plant from Cameron International Corp., as part of an $850 million purchase of Cameron's centrifugal compressor division. Later that year, about 240 hourly workers at the plant went on strike for about a month.

The Broadway plant was once home to Joy Manufacturing. In 1987, Cooper Industries bought Joy and formed Cooper Turbocompressor Division. The company in 2006 changed its name to Cameron.



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