T he employees of the Orion bus plant in Oriskany got the word last week. The Daimler Corporation of Germany will close the plant for good within one year. An estimated 450 people will no longer work there.
Dale Davis has been working at Orion for 13 years. He told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "It's gloomy, everyone's depressed over the shut down after all this time...it means it will be harder to feed my family. I'm not looking forward to being with all the millions of people looking for jobs."
W orkers say they're not hearing much from their managers about severance pay nor how the shutdown will be handled. Oneida County and the New York State Labor Department opened a special office Wednesday to help the Orion workers. It's located at the County's Traffic Safety building which is next door to the plant. Today the office consisted of one worker with a laptop, but soon it will be staffed with four people to help workers with unemployment benefits, job searches, training and educational opportunities.
A lice Savino of the Workforce Investment Board says there are local companies looking for skilled workers. "This is a transition period where you look at what happened, mourn that loss and then assess your skill level and what you want to do for the rest of your life." Savino said.
O neida County Executive Anthony Picente says officials are still trying to assess the full economic impact of the Orion bus plant closing. Picente says there are a number of local companies that supply parts and services to the plant including a graphics company that he says stands to lose a million dollars a year. The ripple effect goes as far as Capri Pizzeria where Tony Rendazzo says he stands to lose $70 to $100 a day in food deliveries. "It's going to affect all the businesses around here locally, plus these guys...what are they going to do." Rendazzo said.
T he Orion bus workers are asking themselves the same question. What are they going to do? Most have less than a year to find an answer.