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The Upstate Economy

Schumer acknowledges it's been a hard few weeks for New York workers

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Julia Botero
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WRVO News
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) at the Kraft-Heinz plant in Lowville in Lewis County.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) visited the home of Philadelphia brand cream cheese in Lowville Wednesday. While parent company Kraft-Heinz was in the midst of closing plants nationwide last week, the company recently it would hire 100 new workers at the plant.  Schumer told those already employed their jobs are secure.

Inside the Lowville cream cheese plant, the sweet heavy scent of cream is ever present.  Down a hallway, a  group of workers in blue uniforms and clear plastic caps spill out of a full room to hear from Schumer. 

Brittany, a single mother who works at the plant, says she heard about possible layoffs at Alcoa in Massena and the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego. She didn't want to give her last name, and says she didn't know her job was at risk.

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Credit Julia Botero / WRVO News
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WRVO News
Workers at the cream cheese plant in Lowville will keep their jobs. Kraft-Heinz has agreed to add 110 new jobs to the plant.

"The idea of anyone losing a job would be catastrophic. It would be bad if I lost my job. My son and I depend on this job," she said.

Schumer acknowledged the last few weeks have been difficult for workers in Northern New York.

"We keep trying to find new jobs and we're having some success but we have to keep the job that we have," the senator said.

Schumer says when Kraft and Heinz merged he began negotiations with the company. He said because the plant in Lowville is profitable, the company and the state hashed out a deal. Kraft-Heinz will invest $20 million over the next five years at three New York plants, including the one in Lowville.

"When they upgrade and bring in new equipment, the state will match them. So for every dollar they spend to upgrade, the state will match it but its well worth it. Well worth it," Schumer said.  

This kind of cooperation has yet to be seen between state officials and Alcoa. Several years ago, Schumer spearheaded a push to keep Alcoa in Massena. He says talks with the company are intense.

"I told the CEO I felt very abused and I think the people up there should. And I did that to try and shame him if you will to do something better for us and that is what we are trying to do now."

Schumer says with the FitzPatrick nuclear plant, the state has more leverage and could force it to stay open. He said talks at FitzPatrick are ongoing.