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Local Officials Meet With Truck-Lite Management

Truck-Lite P-J file photo by Eric Tichy

Local officials who recently met with Truck-Lite management said they hope to preserve as much of the manufacturer’s presence in Falconer as possible.

State Sen. George Borrello said he and Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel arranged the meeting with Truck-Lite’s president and senior management regarding the company’s tentative plan to cease production by the end of the year. The meeting, which took place in Falconer at the end of January, also included village Mayor Jim Jaroszynski; state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown; Mark Geise, deputy county executive; and Alison Hunt, representative of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed.

“Our goal was to engage them on the tentative plan to cease manufacturing operations at the plant,” said Borrello, R-Sunset Bay. “In addition to listening to the challenges they are facing, we also outlined what assistance we can offer at the county, state and federal levels. The goal is to ensure there is an open line of communication to preserve as much as possible in Falconer.”

“We had a productive conversation and will continue to follow up as things progress,” he continued.

Truck-Lite announced Jan. 9 it planned to end production at its longtime 310 E. Elmwood Ave. facility. The company, which manufactures safety lighting and wiring for commercial vehicles, was incorporated in 1956 in Jamestown and moved to the village in the late 1960s.

A company spokesperson said this week “no new developments” were available regarding the “tentative” decision to close the plant.

The spokesperson said Truck-Lite was still working with the union that represents its workers.

Geise said officials are focusing on trying to keep as many employees local as possible. Truck-Lite said it plans to keep workers at its corporate office, located next to the plant, who handle accounting, customer service, purchasing and engineering, among other duties.

If the company wished to sell or lease the plant, Geise said the county could offer tax incentives or loans to a new manufacturer who sought to upgrade equipment or the facility to suit new production.

“We want them to stay here and possibly take advantage of incentives that we might have available,” Geise said. “They were very open to working with us — they were also very apologetic.”

He said job training opportunities will also be available for production workers who might be laid off. “We want them to remain here too,” he said.

Last month’s meeting between officials and the company was also discussed by the Falconer Village Board this week. Jaroszynski reiterated some information that Tim Dunn, a Falconer board member and Truck-Lite employee, had said at a previous board meeting that the Truck-Lite office building will remain open while it is unknown what will become of the production employees.

“First of all, the plant will stay open — the office and engineers and that. That part will stay open,” Jaroszynski said. “(Truck-Lite representatives) are negotiating with the production part of it and trying to see what they can come to terms with — the union.”

However, Jaroszynski said the corporate representatives did not go into extensive detail during the recent meeting about the ongoing negotiation process with the union, adding “they said they are actively talking to them.”

Jaroszynski said that one of the reasons provided by Truck-Lite representatives for the tentative plan to close the production side of operations was due to the minimum wage increases in New York state.

As for future discussions, Jaroszynski said that it’s his understanding that union officials and corporate representatives will exchange ideas and questions related to the ongoing process. He also offered that a possible pathway to keeping the production workers employed could be through another company.

“They said that whatever happens down the road with that production side, that office would stay there and that if they did come to terms with the union that they would seek to lease out the production part of it to somebody else,” Jaroszynski said regarding one of the options being discussed. “But they did not tell us. They didn’t lay their cards out for us about what they’re offering the union.”

He added, “In a perfect world, I want the whole thing to stay.”

By mid-year, the Falconer plant will end production of mirrors. Though its Falconer plant is the largest for Truck-Lite in the U.S. at 170,000 square feet, the location also reportedly has the lowest output in terms of product manufactured.

In March 2019, Truck-Lite announced it was building its global headquarters in Southfield, Mich.

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