CSS Workforce NY seeks to ease their transition

WAYLAND — After a round of layoffs shocked workers at Wayland’s Gunlocke plant earlier this week, impacting 100 employees, resources are being made available to find them new jobs.

Gunlocke's parent company, HNI Technologies Corp., laid off 70 employees and terminated 30 other positions on Monday.

While the company hopes to call back laid off workers over time, depending on sales volume, according to a statement given by Steven Bradford, HNI Technologies general counsel and secretary, no timeline has been set for that to occur. 

“It totally depends on the economy and the volume of products being made at the Wayland facility,” he said. “Certainly if volume goes up and orders go up, we will be hiring those people back. We all hope that we can bring those employees back.”

In an effort to aid the transition of employees to other opportunities, CSS Workforce NY (Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben), is offering to line them up with interviews at hiring companies, secure job training grants and spruce up resumes.

Often, such services are offered en masse, before employees are let go, but because of the sudden nature of the separation, they were not.

However, the jobs market is healthy, with just 4.5 percent unemployment in Steuben County, and 3.8 percent statewide, making a rebound from the sudden layoff likely. Several area manufacturers are adding jobs, as Hornell-based Alstom and its chain of suppliers ramp up production.

CSS Workforce NY Executive Director Dan Porter expressed interest in having a job fair specifically for those affected by the Gunlocke layoff.

"We encourage people to apply for unemployment, or at least engage a local career center in our system so we can make sure they get help," he said. "The reality is that it depends on the business cycle whether everyone gets called back. People should be looking longer term at their family's needs and maybe look at other employers."

Unemployment insurance can only last for up to six months without a hardship extension, and result in a maximum benefit of $435 a week. For that reason, Porter encouraged even those who are employed to have a Plan B.

"In today's global environment, it's important to make sure your resume is current," he said. "I encourage people to reflect honestly on their skills. If you've been in a job for 15 years, your skills are 15-years old. Even if you're employed, people should continue to invest in their skills."

Additionally, workshops to sharpen interview skills and training grants to transition to a new industry can be made available, and professional resume builders can help.

Long-term industry growth in healthcare, information technology and accounting may present long ranging career opportunities.

Counselors in the Hornell and Bath Career Center are available for consultation. There are also career centers in Belmont and Geneseo in Allegany and Livingston Counties.

"If they are called back, they have fresh skills to go back to the job with, or they will have the skills to land with another employer," Porter said.

Any employers interested in interviewing laid off Gunlocke employees, or want to participate in an upcoming career fair event, are encouraged to get in touch with Porter at CSS Workforce NY.

"I'm sure these were painful cuts. These are good people, with good work skills, and a new employer should be happy to have them," Porter said.

To learn more about the services offered by CSS Workforce NY, visit them on the web at www.cssworkforceny.com, or walk into a CSS career center.