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Western New York, August 2011

Business Expansions

New this Month

Unicell, a national and international company that designs and manufactures bodies for commercial trucks and vans is expanding. The Buffalo (Erie County) manufacturer will invest $3.46 million to expand its facilities with a $175,000 investment package from Empire State Development. The company will increase its manufacturing capacity to retain and create over 50 local jobs as part of a green initiative to assemble a cutting edge body for an electric truck.

The New York Racing Association and its vendor are bringing 60 jobs and a new call center to Amherst (Erie County). The NYRA’s contractor for betting services, Churhcill Downs Technology Initiatives Co., will invest $750,000 to set up shop that will bring back 60 jobs to New York that had been lost downstate. The NYRA closed its downstate call center in Queens in December 2010 and planned to do the work in Oregon.

The Seneca Gaming Corp. plans to build an approximately 200-room hotel tower at is Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca (Cattaraugus County). The $53 million project will almost double the number of on-site rooms. Dozens of jobs will be created during construction, along with even more long-term jobs once the new tower is built.

Delaware North Companies Sportservice held its second job fair at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 17th. The company is looking to hire part-time seasonal employees for Buffalo Bills home games and other events held at the stadium.

Ashland Advanced Materials LLC has received a grant to expand its Niagara Falls (Niagara County) operations. The 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant opened in 2008 and has already hired 28 people. The company hopes to hire another 75 workers by January 2013.

The Buffalo School Board unanimously voted to use its entire contingency fund to restore teachers and teacher aides who received layoff notices at the end of July. About 100 teachers and teachers’ aides will have their layoffs rescinded.

The formerly mothballed Statler Towers will be open for its first event on August 26th. Since taking over the building a little more than five months ago, Buffalo businessman Mark Croce has brought back 100,000 square feet of the property back to immediate use. The project is generating 70 construction jobs and 150-200 permanent jobs within the next six months.

Walmart is building a supercenter on Sheridan Drive in Amherst (Erie County) and will hire about 250 new associates. The Walmart will replace another location on Niagara Falls Blvd.

Wendt Corp., a Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) company that makes automobile shredders is expanding. The company is under contract for a second location in the area that is three times as large as its current space and hopes to start moving in to the additional space by years’ end. Wendt Corp. is aiming to reach the 100 employee mark, adding 10 jobs to its 90 person work force.

Business Contractions

New this Month

WKBW—TV is about to join two other local stations to switch its hub/master control operations to an out of town company. The changeover is expected to be completed by October and approximately 10 people, many long-time employees will lose their jobs.

Kaleida Health announced Monday, August 8th, that it will close the Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Health Center on Niagara Street in Buffalo (Erie County) on November 1st. The hospital system earlier this year had characterized the center as a money-losing operation and a target for possible closure. There was talk of possible leasing the building to another health care center, but negotiations for a lease remain unresolved. As a result, the closure will affect about 14,000 patients and 52 employees.

Time Warner sent a WARN notice to the NYS DOL planning the layoffs of 30 salespeople by January 15th 2012.

The United Auto Workers at American Axle & Manufacturing in Cheektowaga (Erie County) rejected what American Axle termed its “last, best and final proposal” from the company and in turn the plant will now shutdown in February 2012 when the current labor agreement expires. The Cheektowaga plant, which began operations in 2000, is the last of the three plants American Axle once had in the Buffalo area. 86 jobs will be eliminated, including 66 hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers local 846.

A total of 21 Buffalo News employees accepted a buyout from the company. The News sought to reduce the Buffalo Newspaper Guild’s staff by $1.8 million in its current negotiations. The Guild has 250 members and is the largest of 156 unions at the News. All of those taking the buyouts must leave the news by August 26.

Crawford Furniture Manufacturing Corp., a more than 125 year old Jamestown (Chautauqua County) maker of American solid-wood furniture, is struggling in the current economy. Furniture orders through national vendors have slowed, as have sales at the company’s retail stores. The company laid off workers and closed its manufacturing facility August 15. The company found itself locked out of its Hamburg (Erie County) retail location and Cheektowaga warehouse last week by landlord Benderson Development temporarily.

Data Listing Services, a call-center in Jamestown (Chautauqua County), could lay off up to 164 employees in mid-September. The company hires and fires employees as specific contracts dictate. If a client is lost, the employees are issued WARN notices. The employees could be transferred to a different client if a new one comes in. There were 326 employees at the company at the beginning of the year.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Nurses at the Gowanda Rehabilitation Nursing Center went on a 24-hr strike on August 1st. The 125 unionized employees say the company wants to cut employer contributions to health insurance, which workers claim they cannot afford. Workers ratified a new-three year labor contract on August 15th.

Members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have ratified a contract with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville (Erie County). The terms affect 200 members of the union including LPN’s, medical technologists, CNA’s, dietary, housekeeping, clerical and maintenance employees. Contract negotiations cover RN’s remain ongoing.

Nurses at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport (Niagara County) have authorized a strike after another round of negotiations failed to result in a contract settlement. The 125 nurses are members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The date for the strike has not yet been set.

Verizon workers are returning to work on August 23rd. Over 45,000 unionized workers, including roughly 1,050 from Western New York, went on strike on August 7th. CWA leaders will return to the bargaining tables to reach a contract deal with the company. Leaders of the CWA have stated that it they do not reach a new contract agreement, the workers will go back on strike.

Members of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters picketed outside the Electric tower in Buffalo on Wednesday, August 17. The group was protesting contractors from Buffalo and Rochester who are not paying the area standard wage.

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