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Wellsville Dresser-Rand plant to close, displacing 250 employees

Dresser Rand

The union representing 250 machinists at Dresser-Rand in Wellsville said it was "shocked" to learn the Coats Street plant will close, laying off its 250 employees.

In a statement, Machinists Union International President Robert Martinez Jr. did not mince words. Martinez said Dresser-Rand has been a staple in the Wellsville community for more than 100 years, and the decision by parent company Siemens to sell the business to Curtiss-Wright and move jobs out of state came "without any indication" or "loyalty."

"Shortly after celebrating 100 years in Wellsville, 250 working families and the community are now left wondering how to move on with their lives. Where is Siemens’ loyalty?" Martinez asked. "Siemens’ mission statement states that they are committed to ethical and responsible actions. But maybe the real mission for Siemens is to chase profits and destroy communities. This type of corporate greed must end and our country needs to put working families over corporate greed."

"This is becoming an all-too-familiar method of doing business by Siemens: acquiring long-standing companies deeply rooted into communities, cherry-picking the product line they want and selling what remains to the highest bidder," said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro said.

The union has pledged to help workers with the transition.

Siemens met with employees Monday to announce the news. In a statement, Siemens said "Curtiss-Wright is purchasing Siemens' government business and services portfolio, and the commercial Power Generation Services work is being transferred to Charlotte and other Siemens facilities."

If regulators approve the sale, it is expected to close in April, while the Allegany County plant is expected to stay open for another two years, run with contract workers.

"It's definitely going to have a major impact on the local economy," Wellsville Supervisor Shad Alsworth told WBFO. "There's not a whole lot of other options in the Wellsville vicinity for those people who are going to be displaced."

Alsworth said along with the loss of jobs, the closing is also going to hurt other local companies that supply the plant, as well as town finances.

"It's going to be an interesting road to hold for everybody in the town of Wellsville," Alsworth said. "We're certainly going to have to tighten our belts around Wellsville in hopes that we can stay competitive. We're just kind of hoping we can work together with Allegany County Industrial Development Agency and some other entities to try to spur some other kind of economic growth."

It was just August 2015 when the union ratified a new three-year contract that included what it called "significant gains, including a 3.5-percent wage increase in the first year of the contract and 3.25 percent in each of the remaining years."

According to its website, Dresser-Rand offers an equipment portfolio that includes turbo and reciprocating compressors, steam turbines, industrial and aero-derivative gas turbines, high-speed engines and modular power substations.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.