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Western New York, November 2008

Business Expansions

New this Month

Sail-it, an information technology and management consulting firm in Buffalo (Erie County) plans to hire 150 people within the next 10 months. The company, which currently employs about 70, will hire mostly network engineers and software developers to support clients from divergent industries.

Conax Technologies LLC has ended a nearly two-year search for a new home and has decided to move its manufacturing operations from Cheektowaga to the Buffalo (Erie County) Lakeside Commerce Park. The company, which manufactures temperature sensors and pressure vacuum sealing devices for industrial and high-tech purposes currently employs 89. With the expansion, the company is looking to see employment approach the 150 worker marker.

UnitedHealth Group’s customer service and claims center in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) will add another 50 jobs over the next two months as the company was honored for customer satisfaction. That’s on top of the 100 jobs United has already added locally in the past year.

Delaware North Cos. Travel Hospitalities Services is looking to fill some 60 jobs at the new Anchor Bar that will open at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (Erie County) in early January 2009. Delaware North is also working with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to develop a 200-seat airport food court that will open in spring 2009. Employment will rise to about 300, up from 130 full-and part-time workers by the end of 2009.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Ford Motor Co. has expanded its latest round of buyout offers to the Hamburg (Erie County) stamping plant. The offers were extended to all 850 hourly workers represented by UAW local 897 at the plant. The buyouts will be offered until October 31. The new round offers the same 10 packages as those presented earlier this year.

With tire sales down across the United States, Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. will trim the workforce at its Tonawanda (Erie County) plant by December 1. Of an estimated 1,100 production workers, up to 150 may be impacted. Of the three product lines manufactured in the plant, only motorcycle tires will continue to be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Before December 1, the plant will identify those eligible for voluntary buyouts. Remaining cuts will be comprised of voluntary layoffs, then involuntary layoffs.

Thirty five hourly workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Buffalo Stamping Plant in Hamburg (Erie County) have agreed to take buyouts or early retirements in the latest round of packages offered by the automaker. The total is less than the 87 who took the offers during a previous round earlier this year. The UAW said that Ford is preparing to scale back production at the local plant during selected weeks starting this month (November) through early February 2009, as the automaker copes with a slowdown in sales.

Fisher-Price in East Aurora (Erie County) is eliminating 70 jobs from its workforce of 900, part of about 1000 jobs that its parent company Mattel is cutting worldwide. The toymaker’s cuts are a combination of layoffs, retirements, attrition and vacant positions.

Praxair is cutting 60 jobs at its research and development site in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) as it prepares for leaner times. The cuts represent about 5.4% of the company’s workforce of 1,100 at the Praxair Technology Center, which houses the company’s research and development, engineering, information technology and other functions.

Struggling auto parts maker Delphi in Lockport (Niagara County) has laid off another two dozen employees this week. If auto sales continue to decline, the company could be seeing 50 to 100 layoffs every week.

Par Foam Products, a Buffalo (Erie County) business with 52 employees, is headed for a shutdown after it was acquired by a Massachusetts-based company. Par Foam’s plant produces gaskets, seals and filters made of polyurethane foam and sponge rubber for automotive, medical, office equipment, industrial, packaging and household uses.

About 225 employees at HSBC Mortgage Corp. in Depew (Erie County) are losing their jobs, as the lender shuts down wholesale and correspondent lending and shifts to direct lending to consumers instead of through brokers. Employees will remain on the job for 60 more days.

Hydro-Air Components has laid off 30 employees at its plant in South Buffalo (Erie County), citing a weakening economic climate. The company supplies products to the commercial heating and cooling industries. Hydro-Air moved to a new plant in early 2007 and at that time said it expected to add 200 jobs over an 18-month period, in addition to retaining 114 jobs. Following the layoffs, which took effect last week (November 10), Hydro-Air has 120 workers.

Henkel Corp. announced that it will begin a three-year process to shut down its Olean (Cattaraugus County) Plant. The announcement was long anticipated. As early as 2006, the plant had 230 workers, due to layoffs, that number has shrunk to 105 today. In May of 2007 the company announced it would begin cutting back more jobs as it transfers its epoxy molding compounds division from Olean to a joint venture in China. Henkel produces coatings, powders and encapsulants for the worldwide electronic and industrial markets. At this time there is not a firm date for closing the plant other than it will close sometime in 2011.

Minrad International, an Orchard Park (Erie County) based anesthesia maker is facing severe financial problems. The company announced that it has cut 50 positions, equal to 35 percent of its work force.

General Motors is cutting back on shifts at plants across the county, including the GM Power Train plant in Tonawanda (Erie County). Between 200-300 workers have learned about the shift reductions at the WNY location, with some production lines being reduced to one shift. The entire workforce at the plants has also been notified about the possibility of the plant being shutdown completely from December 15-January 8th. Should that occur it would furlough not only 1300 unionized workers, but approximately 300 managers and engineers as well.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Negotiations between Kaleida Health and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers will go to the next level with the introduction of a federal mediator. The federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will begin working with the two organizations to help end the contract dispute affecting 3,000 local health care employees. Negotiations opened on March 3, 2008. Contracts covering all 12 bargaining units with Kaleida expired on May 31, 2008. Members of the union voted n a proposed contract offer on Wednesday, November 19. Two bargaining units of a major union at Kaleida Health System voted to approve a new contract, while seven other units overwhelmingly rejected to deal. The mixed outcome means that two units of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare workers East representing about 14 percent of the 3,200 Kaleida workers have new contracts. The seven units that rejected the deal make up 86 percent of the work force and they remain without contracts.

City of Buffalo Firefighters (Erie County) rejected a contract that would have raised their pay by 20 percent over the next five years. This is the second contract that the union has turned down.

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