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Western New York, March 2005

Business Expansions

New this Month

Computer Task Group, a Buffalo (Erie County) information technology company, has won a significant amount of extra work from its biggest customer, International Business Machines Corp., which will lead to the hiring of 500 additional staffers during the current quarter. The 2,500 person workforce would increase by 24 percent.

Snyder Manufacturing, a Salamanca (Cattaraugus County) based contract manufacturer, has bought the assets of Buffalo Pellet Stoves, and plans to restart production of the heating devices. The company plans to produce the stoves in Salamanca. Longer range plans call for opening branches in the Buffalo, Rochester and Erie, Pa, areas.

The Seneca Niagara Casino Corp. (Niagara County) is currently constructing a 26-story skyscraper hotel tower in the once-desolate business district in downtown Niagara Falls. The hotel, which will open in December, will bring another 800 jobs into the area.

Four area companies have pledged to create a total of 64 jobs in return for low-cost power allocations. DuPont, which is located in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) plans to add 30 jobs to its 254-member workforce and Allegheny Technologies in Lockport (Niagara County) which currently employs 43, will add three jobs. BMP America and Associated Brands (Orleans County) will grow by 10 and 21 positions respectively.

Business Contractions

New this Month

A state appeals court let the Erie County Legislature proceed with the budget cuts in Erie County departments, and layoffs it originally outlined on Feb. 17. The five-judge panel sided with lawyers for the Legislature and County Executive Giambra, stating that the State Supreme Court justice strayed into the Legislature’s authority by ordering a new round of hearings into the 2005 budget. The Legislature does not have to rearrange priorities to satisfy the sheriffs, comptroller, clerk or auto bureau departments.

Erie County Auto Bureaus in Orchard Park and Amherst officially closed as of Monday, March 7, casualties of the budget crisis. The office in downtown Buffalo will close March 21, leaving the only office open in Erie County the location in Depew.

County budget cuts to Erie County Medical Center would force administrators to lay off about 150 employees and likely close some its medical programs. The additional $3 million cut proposed last week has put a further strain on the millions of dollars in cuts already made to the facility.

Oneida Ltd. plans to close its warehouse in Buffalo (Erie County) to cut costs later this year. The warehouse employs 90 workers.

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (Erie County) board of commissioners voted to lay off all 28 members of its police department, plus 18 other employees throughout the organizations. Starting July 1, the public safety department will be eliminated. Funding for the housing police dried up after federal grant money for the program was eliminated. The added responsibilities associated with patrolling the Housing Authority properties with higher crime and call volume will further strain the Buffalo Police Department.

Buffalo City Schools (Erie County) could face more job losses in the next three years. Steep enrollment declines and a continuing fiscal crisis could cause 1,300 jobs, or about 24 percent of the district’s current work force. Those projections hinge on factors that could change in the next three years, and are estimates based on the best information now available.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Salaried Workers at strikebound Eastman Machine Co. in Buffalo (Erie County) are working to fill orders, and its’ undecided whether the company would hire replacement workers if the strike continues. Workers began picketing the plant on March 12, after a deadline for progress toward a new agreement expired. The 60 production workers involved in the strike are represented by United Auto Workers Local 936.

State University of New York graduate and teaching students approved a new four-year contract. The negotiated contract will cover 4,361 graduate and teaching assistants across the SUNY system.

The Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing 20 laid-off corrections officers from Alden Correctional Facility, (Erie County) has filed a lawsuit against Erie County. The suit contends that the loss of the employees creates an unsafe workplace and a threat to public safety. The jail is currently staffed with 187 employees, well below the staffing requirement of 265 set by the state Department of Correctional Services.

UPDATE: A State Supreme Court justice allowed the layoff of the corrections officers at Alden Correctional Facility, a week after he put those layoffs on hold.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1095 (Erie County) filed a grievance against Erie County Medical Center earlier this week challenging the hospital’s refusal to allow bumping into nurse’s aide and pharmacy aide positions. The hospital has agreed to accept 29 non-hospital AFSCME workers who are bumping into housekeeping, plant and supply-processing positions, but says it will not place another 21 workers in nurse’s aide positions or seven others in pharmacy aide jobs as the union wants. Hospital officials are concerned that untrained Parks and Public Works employees that have had no prior experience with patients could jeopardize patient safety.

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