Updated 05/18/2006 08:53 AM
Camillus Cutlery workers on strike
Camillus Cutlery is one of several companies in Central New York who've had workers walk out and strike since the beginning of this year. Like most, workers at Camillus Cutlery are concerned over wages and healthcare plans.
"They want a 40% reduction in wages, which is ridiculous. They want to boost the healthcare payments for us way up. They want to give us no severance package, no severance language," said striking worker Sharon Brown.
News 10 Now spoke to the company's president, Jim Furgal, but he declined to comment. The contracts expired last month, but the company allowed them to continue working under the prior agreement. On Tuesday, Camillus Cutlery offered a new contract to the workers. Union members unanimously voted against it because they said the company was asking them to give up too much.
"The company is being very unfair and it's about time we stood our ground and do what we think is right, and I think I speak for everyone here we've had enough," said Brown.
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"There's no respect at all. They're just trying to take everything away from us. Most of us have worked here for 30 years or more. It's just outrageous what they're trying to do," added Deborah Austin, Local United Steelworkers president.
Camillus Mayor Edward Fletcher said he heard rumors of problems circulating around the company, but he had no idea a strike was in the works until he came into work Wednesday morning.
Fletcher said the company holds a strong historical value to the community, and a strike doesn't look good for the town's image.
"This strike surprised me tremendously. I didn't know anything about it. I hope they negotiate. I hope things don't go on for too long for their sake and the company's sake," said Mayor Fletcher.
The mayor also made repeated attempts to reach Furgal, but said he has yet to receive a call back.
Workers said they'll continue to strike until representatives from Camillus Cutlery agree to return to the negotiating table.
Late Wednesday the company released a statement saying the company is facing a severe financial crisis and asked the union for certain cost reductions.
They also said they are not asking the union for a 40% cut in wages, or a discontinue existing severance benefits.
The company says its willing to return to the negotiation table with the union.