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Western New York, December 2008

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Federal Department of Homeland Security is expanding its Buffalo (Erie County) region Citizenship and Immigration Services operation with a new downtown office. CIS will establish a 33,000-square-foot administrative services office in Bank of America building in Fountain Plaza. The office, which will process citizenship and visa petitions, temporary worker applications and adjudicates asylum claims, will employ about 135 workers. Currently, CIS has a small operation located in Buffalo that has 35 employees.

The Buffalo Veterans Affairs regional office in Buffalo (Erie County) is adding 95 claims examiners in its education division to process veterans benefits related to the new post 9/11 GI bill. The positions are term appointments for a minimum of 13 months up to four years. The new jobs will more than double employment in the division.

One Western New York manufacturer will be adding 115 new jobs during the next four years as part of a major project to expand its capacity and capabilities. API Heat Transfer, which makes heat transfer products in Cheektowaga (Erie County), will spend $11.15 million to add more than 52,000 square feet of production space and 6,000 square feet of office space to its facility.

ECR International, a Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) manufacturing company, will add between 40 and 60 new jobs next year. The Dunkirk plant currently employs about 130 people and primarily makes boilers, furnaces and the company’s new hybrid heat and power system.

A Phoenix-based debt collection agency has selected an Amherst (Erie County) site to open its first Northeast office. Calvary Portfolio Service LLC currently has 24 local employees, but hope to add 151 more workers in the next 18 months.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday (December 30) that it will hire more than 1,000 Western New Yorkers in preparation for the 2010 Census. Positions are part-time and temporary. The workers are needed starting in March 2009.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Goodyear Dunlop cut 147 jobs at its Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) plant today (December 1, 2008) by implementing planned production cuts. The company disclosed in October that it planned to shrink its work force by up to 150 positions. The 147 total job reductions include 52 workers who took buyouts and 95 workers who were laid off.

Seneca Gaming Corp. officials announced a 5 percent across-the-board layoff, or 210 of its 4,200 employees, due to the impact of the weakening national economy. Layoff notices were handed out December 2 to employees in the gambling operation’s casinos, hotels and entertainment complexes in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) and Salamanca (Cattaraugus County), as well as the temporary casino in Buffalo (Erie County). Besides the layoffs, the corporation announced a salary freeze for those making more than $70,000 a year, suspended yearly bonuses and will reduce salaries for its senior management and board of directors.

ArcelorMittal SA –the world’s largest steelmaker-is shutting its plant in Lackawanna (Erie County). The plant’s business depends heavily on the automotive industry. The shutdown will eliminate about 260 jobs and will be phased out by April 30, 2009.

Ford Motor Co’s temporary plant shutdowns are impacting the Woodlawn (Erie County) stamping plant, which will be idle for most of the next four weeks. The assembly plant has scheduled down weeks beginning Dec. 15, Jan. 5 and Jan. 12. All are scheduled to return to work Jan. 19. The exact number of workers impacted is unknown.

KB Toys has filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in four years, joining a growing list of retailers filing for protection. The company plans to close all of its stores, including all four in Western New York. Two other local stores in the area had previously closed after the company’s first bankruptcy.

A Buffalo (Erie County) bill collector has abruptly shut down and laid off all 73 employees. Elite Recovery Services sent its workers home suddenly without severance or other benefits on Thursday, December 11, citing economic reasons for the shut down.

Gambino Ford in the Town of Lockport (Niagara County) is closing, under a program Ford Motor Co. is using to consolidate its dealer network. Other area Ford dealers bought out the Gambino dealership inventory. This is the third local Ford dealership to close its doors in the past two years. The business employed 35 people.

Roadway Express will close its West Seneca (Erie County) facility March 1, 2009 as part of a national consolidation effort by parent company YRC Worldwide to “integrate” 80 facilities into a total of 450 consolidated operations. 198 union, hourly and clerical workers are employed at the site. The closure will come just three years after company restructuring led to expansion of the Buffalo operations, which added 130 jobs at the West Seneca facility.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

The United Auto Workers labor contracts could be altered as part of a plan to help the Big Three survive, union leaders said December 3. The union is willing to change its contract and will delay billions of dollars in company payments to a union-run health care trust to help the struggling carmakers. The union will also suspend the jobs bank, in which laid-off workers are paid up to 95 percent of their salaries while not working, but did not give specifics. The union will sit down with the leaders of the automakers as soon as possible. About 2,000 union workers will be affected in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

Nurses at Erie County Medical Center, the Erie County Home and the Health Department ratified a new contract late Tuesday (December 23) after working without a pact since 2005. Terms of the contract with the Western Region District of the New York State Nurses Association were not disclosed but the agreement will extend through 2011. The county still must negotiate contracts with the bulk of its work force represented by Local 815, Civil Service Employees Association, and Local 1085, American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees.

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