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Western New York, January 2008

Business Expansions

New this Month

The temporary Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo (Erie County) is planning a $3 million expansion this spring. This expansion doubles the amount of slot machines in the gaming area. The Senecas are still finalizing blueprints for a $333 million permanent gaming and hotel complex scheduled to open in 2010.

The federal General Services Administration has selected Buffalo (Erie County) as an expansion site for a federal program that offers employers the ability to check out the eligibility of new hires electronically. Their office with about 30 employees is expected to open soon at a temporary location until a permanent space can be found. The office in Buffalo will be the first for the growing program outside of Washington, D.C. The system, known as E-Verify, is a joint initiative of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, and has been in existence since 1997.

Kohl’s department store will be opening a store in the Delaware Commons strip center in the City of Buffalo (Erie County) by the end of this year. The new store carries a $3.4 million price tag and is expected to employ 135 people.

Business Contractions

New this Month

GM officials say they have canceled their planned V-8 engine line for the Tonawanda (Erie County) Powertrain Plant. The V-8 engine line was announced last year and involved a multi-million dollar re-tooling at the plant and was touted to bring job security to the facility. About 150 workers that are on temporary layoff will be impacted.

General Motors Corp. is close to an agreement with the United Auto Workers on another round of buyouts and early retirement offers to cut the number of workers in job banks and clear opening for workers hired at lower-tier wages. GM’s engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) has no workers in its job banks, but 130 workers are on permanent layoff. They could be brought back to work in the event of other job openings at the plant. The Tonawanda site has 1,520 hourly workers, including those on permanent layoff.

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. has ceased production at its Buffalo (Erie County) plant. The end came on December 21st in advance of what the United Auto Workers union, which represented the Buffalo facility’s approximately 650 hourly workers, says is an eventual closing in the weeks to come. American Axle’s contract with the UAW expires on February 25th. The end of production, which the company blamed on lagging demand for mid-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, was announced last July. American Axle continues to operate two other facilities in the Buffalo area. Approximately 558 of the 650 unionized workers at the Buffalo Plant have accepted the company’s buyout offers. The remaining 92 have either been transferred to other American Axle plants or remain on the payroll at the Delavan Plant.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative will close a plant in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) in May and shift the site’s production to its Cheektowaga location. A majority of the plants 50 employees will be offered positions at the Cheektowaga site.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and its unions have achieved a labor relations milestone. For the first time in the public transit agency’s history, all 13 of its labor unions are simultaneously under contracts. The contracts cover 76 transit offices and almost 1,500 workers.

A new contract for Buffalo School crossing guards was approved January 28th by Buffalo’s (Erie County) control board. It was the first union-ratified pact approved by the control board since it lifted a wage freeze last summer. The contract covers 156 crossing guards.

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