Three days after Sikorsky announced it would close its plant near Elmira, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter today to the company’s owner, saying she’s “disappointed to hear the news.”
She was stronger in a statement to Gannett’s Albany Bureau after her office today was asked for comment. Sikorsky, which is owned by the United Technologies Corp. in Connecticut, announced Monday it would lay off 570 workers by year’s end.
“I am shocked and deeply disappointed with this week’s announcement by UTC,” Gillibrand said in the statement. “My biggest concern is with the families that are now faced with even more uncertainty in an already tough economy. The plant in Big Flats has been a strong economic driver for the Southern Tier. Local workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own this week are the same workers who helped make Sikorsky a profitable company. They deserve better. The least UTC can do is guarantee every worker a fair severance package. And the right thing for UTC to do is work with local leaders to find a new business or industry to fill this space – so we can get our workers back on the job, and get more Southern Tier families back on stable ground.”
Gillibrand is seeking a full six-year term in November. Her Republican opponent Wendy Long yesterday knocked Gillibrand for Gillibrand’s economic plan as the Southern Tier company falters.
Gillibrand’s office said the senator was in contact with local officials since the news was announced Monday. So to was Sen. Charles Schumer.
“It’s sad that federal defense cuts have resulted in 570 hard working employees of Sikorsky being laid off,” Long said in a statement. “What’s insulting is Sen. Gillibrand’s delusional new ad highlighting a bogus job bills, while New York’s manufacturers are struggling.”
She said Gillibrand should support hydrofracking to bring jobs to the Southern Tier. Elmira sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
“Senator Gillibrand needs to stand up for New Yorkers in Washington and finally recognize the economic benefits of Marcellus Shale for a struggling Southern Tier economy, and the job opportunities it will mean for the hard-hit region,” Long said.