Cott layoffs may number about 20

The local economy has taken another hit.

Dunkirk’s Cott Corp. operations have let go some 20 employees, according to figures heard by Katie Geise, executive director of Chautauqua Works. For its part, a Cott spokesperson told the OBSERVER Monday afternoon the company “had no comment at this time.”

Chautauqua Works will eventually be in contact with people who do apply for unemployment.

“Our job is to help anybody that’s in this situation so they are encouraged to go to Chautauqua Works to assist them with their job search. I would strongly urge that they would look at any information about unemployment insurance online. That’s usually the first thing people have questions about,” Geise explained. “They can go online or come into the office and we have pamphlets that explain exactly how to file a claim.”

Geise said appointments are not needed at Chautauqua Works.

“They can come in anytime, we have a staffed resource room. There’s computer access in those resource rooms as well and it’s all free of charge,” she explained.

“We have a lot of free workshops to assist people in exactly this type of situation. If they file an unemployment claim they will have an appointment to come into the offices but they don’t have to wait for that, they can come in anytime,” she added.

Chautauqua Works has offices in Dunkirk at 407 Central Ave. and in Jamestown at 23 E. Third St. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said he learned of the layoffs Friday night.

“Again, we’re learning about this through employees and when we’re dealing with multi-national corporations it makes it very difficult to reach out to people to see what we can do as a city to offer a helping hand. As always we’re willing to assist where we can,” he stated. “It’s just one hit after the other but we’re going to keep plugging.”

Unlike the recent layoffs announced at Carriage House and Petri’s in Silver Creek, the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law does not apply to Cott Corp. Dunkirk in this case.

According to the state’s WARN site, the act applies to private businesses with 50 or more full-time workers in the state. It covers closings affecting 25 or more workers; mass layoffs involving 25 or more full-time workers (if the 25 or more workers make up at least 33 percent of all the workers at the site); mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time workers; and certain other relocations and covered reductions in work hours.

This means that covered businesses must provide all employees with notice 90 days prior to a plant closing, mass layoff, relocation or other covered reduction in work hours.

Cott’s purchase of Cliffstar was completed in August 2010 for over $500 million. At the time, Cliffstar had a total of 1,250 employees nationwide, with 600 employed in the local area.

Local jobs were lost when Cott acquired Cliffstar. Some were moved, with corporate-type job functions moved to Cott operations at its corporate headquarters in Tampa and finance-type job functions transferred to Houston operations.

Upon acquiring Cliffstar, Cott became the world’s largest retailer brand beverage company, operating facilities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Mexico.

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