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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Bamboozle by Remington Arms

Remington Arms of Ilion, NY wants you to believe that gun control legislation will hurt its business.  But facts don’t lie.  I don’t usually blog about local issues or companies, but this situation reflects national concerns and is certainly a clear example of “bamboozling“!  Read the article excerpts first and then we’ll talk.

By Stephanie Sorrell-White
The Telegram Posted Sep 20, 2010 @ 11:08 PM
 
Ilion, N.Y. —
U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, announced Monday the U.S. Army has awarded Remington Arms a Firm Fixed Price Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract to upgrade up to 3,600 M24 sniper rifles.
The contract is for a five-year period with a potential value of up to $28.2 million. (emphasis added)
“This contract will not only pump millions into the region’s economy, but will reinforce our efforts to allow Remington to compete for all defense contracts — which they have shown they can win,” said Schumer in a news release.
Nearly 500 employees — or approximately half of its workforce — would work on the M24 upgrade.
Remington has manufactured the M24 sniper rifle for 22 years, producing nearly 15,000 rifles. The company has mainly been a sporting gun and equipment manufacturer… and expanding into federal defense contracting can help the company grow  (emphasis added). Remington desired to expand into long-term military capabilities and Arcuri and Schumer have worked to open up contract competitions that Remington had previously been shut out of. 
“Anything that Remington is securing is obviously going to make them that much more stable in the community. It’s going to be good for them and it’s going to be good for us,” said Ilion Mayor John Stephens in a telephone interview Monday night.
Stephens said the new legislation that has allowed Remington to be more competitive for military contracts helps keep jobs in the Ilion and the Mohawk Valley.
Jim Rabbia, Remington Arms Ilion plant manager, said securing the Army contract ensures that Remington’s operations will continue to grow.

January 10, 2011
WASHINGTON -- 
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced the Remington Arms Company is set to receive $8.9 million from the U.S. Army to manufacture 1,212 M24 sniper rifles used by servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan. The funding is part of a federal contract through the Army Foreign Military Sales program. All of the production of the M24 sniper rifles will take place at Remington Arms' Ilion facility by local employees, strengthening Remington's position …
 
By ANDREW DONOVAN
Story Updated: Apr 21, 2012 at 9:41 PM EST

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - Remington Arms has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract that could create up to 50 jobs in the Mohawk Valley, federal government sources confirmed to NEWSChannel 2.
The nearly $84 million contract is for manufacturing equipment for the U.S. Army through April 2017. The project consists of making nearly 100,000 M-4 rifles. 

By Staff 
GateHouse News Service Posted Oct 29, 2012 @ 06:12 PM

Ilion, N.Y. —

Remington Arms has received a $4.2 million contract to manufacture 5,000 Bushmaster M4A3 Carbines for the country of Oman’s Royal Police, according to U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna. 
Hanna, R - Barneveld, said in a statement: “The expertise and quality of Remington and their centuries of experience are clearly recognized not only by our own men and women in uniform who depend on their products to keep them safe on the front lines, but also nations around the world.”
This follows other recent contracts for Remington.
In September, the U.S. Army awarded a $12 million contract to produce spare parts for its XM2010 Sniper Rifle. The XM2010 was designed and developed specifically for the sustained harsh environment of the modern battlefield using state-of-the-art technology, manufacturing processes and corrosion resistant materials.
In May, Remington was awarded an $83.9 million contract… for manufacturing more than 100,000 M-4 rifles for the U.S. Army and would allow the plant to buy new equipment and expand its facility.  (emphasis added)

________________________*__________________________

Adam Sichko, a Reporter with the The Business Review recently reported that “the village of Ilion, NY, spent Monday rallying to protect Remington Arms Co., an upstate gun company that makes some of the types of assault weapons used in recent U.S. shooting sprees.”

Obviously, workers at Remington Arms must feel trapped and anxious, perhaps a bit scared, as their company threatens to leave this area because of new gun laws that are said to threaten their business. As the descendant of gun makers who immigrated to America from Birmingham, England, I am acutely aware of the pressures of such threats on the physical and mental well-being of the men and women who labor in this field. However, in the name of common sense, we need to look more closely at this situation.

First of all, the new NYS gun laws have little or nothing to do with how Remington Arms makes its money, just as much-discussed national gun laws will not.  The new laws fortify New York's existing assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets allowed in magazines and strengthen rules that govern the mentally ill, which includes a requirement to report potentially harmful behavior.  Other provisions include background checks for people who purchase guns privately and more restrictions on high-capacity magazines.  But, Remington at Ilion doesn’t make a lot of guns that get sold to dealers and the general public.

Remington Arms at Ilion does not exist around the manufacture of assault rifles.  It’s business is mainly devoted to the manufacture of long rifles and military arms under several lucrative government contracts, some of which have been mentioned above in news articles.  In fact, one of those government contracts apparently employs half the Ilion factory workforce.

New York Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, a Democrat and the chief sponsor of the unsuccessful micro-stamping legislation on semiautomatic pistols that was last considered by the state’s full Senate in 2010, said in a recent article that she believes Remington’s vow to move out of NYS is merely a threat.

“Their main product isn’t even semiautomatic guns; the main thrust of what they do are long guns and military contracts,” Schimel told FoxNews.com. “… it would be foolish for them to leave the New York market. They are getting a lot of money from the state.”
“That’s the new threat: to move where that [gun] friendly state is,” she said. “It’s unfair of them to resist sensible regulation to save lives. It does not impact lawful gun ownership at all.”

This isn’t the first time that  Remington management threatened to move its operations.  In August of last year, Remington made this same threat because of the possibility of “micro-stamping“ information on the tip of firing pins.  Remington executive Stephen Jackson wrote to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warning forced micro-stamping could prompt the company to “reconsider its commitment to the New York market altogether….”  Sound familiar?

Looking back to August of 2012, when Assemblywoman Schimel’s micro-stamping legislation was being debated, we hear familiar echoes of the rhetoric being used today:

Gun ID legislation may trigger exodus of gun makers Remington, Colt
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published August 28, 2012
FoxNews.com

“Two venerable American gun manufacturers — Remington and Colt — could head for the West their weapons helped win if New York and Connecticut force them to implement micro-stamping technology.
Micro-stamping, or ballistic imprinting, is a patented process that uses laser technology to engrave a tiny marking of the make, model and serial number on the tip of a gun’s firing pin to allow an imprint of that information on spent cartridge cases. Supporters of the technology say it will be a “game changer,” allowing authorities to quickly identify the registered guns used in crimes. Opponents claim the process is costly, unreliable and may ultimately impact the local economies that heavily depend on the gun industry, including Ilion, N.Y., where Remington Arms maintains a factory, and Hartford, Conn., where Colt's manufacturing is headquartered.
“Mandatory micro-stamping would have an immediate impact of a loss of 50 jobs,” New York State Sen. James Seward, a Republican whose district includes Ilion, said, adding that Remington employs 1,100 workers in the town. “You’re talking about a company that has options in other states. Why should they be in a state that’s hostile to legal gun manufacturing? There could be serious negative economic impact with the passage of micro-stamping and other gun-control laws.”
Ilion Mayor John Stephens told FoxNews.com he believes the company, which has had suitors in several Midwest states with less restrictive gun laws, was not bluffing.
The closure of Remington’s plant in the 8,000-resident village would be a “huge hit” to the local economy, Stephens said…”

State Senator Seward’s question: “Why should they be in a state that’s hostile to legal gun manufacturing?” is one fraught with misnomer and innuendo.  The State of New York is not hostile to LEGAL gun manufacturing or sales.  In fact the State is not at all hostile to the manufacture of sporting rifles and military hardware.  What it does oppose is the ability of just anyone to purchase a military-style assault rifle used primarily to kill other people.  The State does not ban the manufacture of such weapons for the military and for law enforcement.

This is substantiated in an article written on January 21, 2013 by Michael Hill of the Associated Press.  Hill begins by acknowledging that “residents in this blue-collar stretch of the Mohawk Valley are defending Remington after state lawmakers banned the sale of semi-automatic rifles like the Bushmaster weapon made there. The move came after the weapon was linked to gunmen in the deadly Connecticut school shooting and in the Christmas Eve slayings of two firefighters in western New York.”  Then, after citing complaints by Ilion residents and arms workers that the new gun laws will affect their semi-automatic gun business, Hill writes: “people in town wonder where things stand in the wake of the new state law, which does not affect Remington’s ability to manufacture military-style weapons.” (emphasis added)

After all, Remington has been able to carry on its production of the Bushmaster semi-automatic weapon while under the stricture of the old NY State gun law which also banned the private sale of such weapons!   

It is obvious in some of the articles initially quoted above that local, state and federal officials have been loyal supporters and promoters of Remington Arms in Ilion.  Two federal legislators even made sure that Remington could broaden its manufacturing base by being able to compete for more government contracts.  It was also reported in April of 2010 that the county in the previous year gave $2 million to assist with Remington’s over $13 million capital project. The plant’s project also relied on almost $3 million in state grant funding, and created almost 200 jobs.  In addition, since 2009, New York has given Remington Arms nearly $5.4 million to expand and consolidate operations from other states in Ilion through the Empire State Development Corporation. 

A report from the Defense Department indicates that in the year 2000, this company had only 2 government contracts totaling $117,796, but by 2011, Remington in Ilion was awash in 12 contracts totaling over $12 million, and had acquired 56 contracts between 2006 and 2011 that totaled over $64.3 million.  The gun control legislation passed at the state level and proposed at the federal level does not affect their ability to continue to obtain such military contracts.  To wit: NYS gun laws were already some of the strictest in the nation while Remington was pulling down these substantial defense contracts!

Finally, we should briefly make the point that the village of Ilion, NY isn’t the only area to feel the impact of threats like this.  Madison in Rockingham County, NC  had to endure threats of Remington headquarters being moved to Charlotte or Greensboro.  Within the last five years, the company looked around the region for land before calling off their search.  And, as we saw in an article above, Remington wasn’t the only arms company to make such threats over micro-stamping: Colt did the same to the city of Hartford CT. 

By the way, moving factories to other locations, acquiring new properties and other companies, and consolidating operations is a way of life for gun manufacturers, not only in our times, but in past eras as well.  My own ancestors experienced the “lock, stock and barrel” movement of gun companies, for which they worked, several times in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I will mention just two:  the sale and movement in the spring of 1890 of the L.C. Smith Gun Co. from Syracuse to Fulton, NY where it formed the basis of the Hunter Arms Co., and the movement of the Tobin Arms Co. from Norwich, CT to Woodstock, Ont., Canada in 1909-1910.  This pattern of gun company consolidation and movement to new locales is as old as the hills, long before the passage of strict gun control measures!  It’s the nature of the beast.

Moreover, from 1970 to 2004, Remington Arms Co. has, according to the account of its own history on www.remington.com, been involved in at least 15 instances of company acquisitions, building of new plants, consolidations,  and re-locations.

A recent article by Ryan Delaney on WRVO.org indicates that there are five states courting Remington Arms.  They include Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona and South Carolina. They have all sent recent letters to Remington’s owner, Freedom Groups, citing each state's business-friendly environment and support of the Second Amendment.  Reportedly, the company is “carefully evaluating its options.”  The local union sent its own letter to Governor Cuomo's office expressing their concern about the courtships, Delaney reported.

If Remington wants to move South or West, they will find an excuse to do so, not because their business is threatened by new gun control laws, but because they have been exploring this possibility for awhile. Don’t forget, too, that they already have plants established in Hickory, KY and Lonoke, AR.  Just like many gun companies before them, they could seek to consolidate operations in these existing locations, not because of new gun control laws, but because it will save money for the company!

The United Mine Workers of America Local 717, the union representing workers at  Remington Arms in Ilion, signed a new five year contract with the company in December of 2012.  That contract calls for  a $500 signing bonus, and features 3 percent wage increases in each of the first four years, and 3.5 percent in the final year. It also maintains the current level of medical benefits, improves the language governing overtime and creates a new position, Utility Specialist, aimed at reducing the reassignment of regular workers, according to WKTV.  The new pact also includes a provision extending Local 717 jurisdiction to any new plant that Remington builds, within a 100-mile radius of the main plant in the Village of Ilion.

In this context, it is important to understand that all of the states known to be interested in luring Remington are “Right To Work” states, meaning above all, that Remington, should they choose to move there, will be able to reduce personnel costs, because ineffective or non-existent unions in such states won’t be pushing to negotiate for substantial wage and benefit increases.  We can only imagine what other tempting incentives are being offered by these states and localities.  After all is said and done: business is still business.  However, the good news is that Remington Arms headquarters has not announced whether it plans to move its manufacturing out of New York.

Don’t be “bamboozled” by all the rhetoric.  Learn the facts: gun control laws will not affect Remington’s mainstay government contracts and profits, but they will provide an excuse to move to another state where there is little or no union influence, and where (save Michigan) it’s a heck-of-a-lot warmer!