OLEAN, N.Y. — Shortly after Siemens Energy announced it plans earlier this year to sell its factory in the city of Olean, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he had a very one-sided conversation with the company's CEO.
"I told them, if these jobs aren't kept, you're going to have one really ... really angry — I was going to [use a] different word — really angry majority leader," Schumer said.
The majority leader said he plans to use his clout to keep the roughly 1,000 jobs, including 590 United Steelworkers jobs at the factory. He's urging the company which acquired the long-time owner of the facility Dresser-Rand in 2015 to sell to a company that will continue to make the same kinds of compressors and turbines already being produced there.
"We don't want a warehouse," Schumer said. "We don't want any of that. We want this plant to continue what it's making and even expand with the labor force here, with the facility here, it's a very, very good catch for a company to buy and we don't want Siemens to just sell out."
Schumer did not want to talk about what companies might be interested but says, especially with a federal infrastructure bill in the pipeline, there is plenty of opportunity to prosper.
"Any company that's interested, I will get on the phone with their CEO no matter where they are and say we will make it worth your while to come here and stay in Olean," he said.
Meanwhile, another issue that could be affected by that infrastructure bill is the construction of a new Buffalo Bills stadium. While the federal government won't pay directly for a facility, Schumer said he will do what he can to make sure the parties that are negotiating are on the same page.
"The infrastructure money is not used for stadiums, but it could be used for all the roads and all the infrastructure that you need," he said. "If there's a new stadium, you're obviously going to have to build a whole highway system, and I would add that will all be built with union labor."
As for the immediate future, the team is still missing a significant portion of its fan base from Southern Ontario as the border remains closed to Canadian citizens. Schumer said he continues to disagree with the Biden administration for not opening up, has spoken with the secretary of Treasury and Homeland Security, and it hopes it will change very soon.