Written by Cara Chapman in the Press-Republican on June 2, 2020
PLATTSBURGH — Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) sat down with Mold-Rite Plastics management and toured the Plattsburgh facility Monday morning.
“Part of my office’s strategies during … the pandemic is to ensure that we’re sharing best practices and Mold-Rite is a great example of a manufacturer deemed essential at the start of this crisis,” she told media following the tour.
“The tour today was very informative to hear about how they’ve updated their operations to have temperature checks, how they’ve ensured the safety and health of their workforce … and how they’ve shared that with other businesses in the region.”
MEASURES IN PLACE
During a roundtable prior to the tour, the manufacturer’s leadership updated Stefanik on the various measures the company has taken in response to COVID-19 and shared their concerns and thoughts on moving forward.
Vice President of Operations Eric Zeisloft said, at the start of the pandemic, Mold-Rite stocked up on laptops and tried to set as many people up working from home as possible.
Any kind of meeting space, he continued, was rearranged to maintain six-foot spacing and the number of people allowed in offices was limited.
Mold-Rite encouraged those with any sort of illness to stay home. So far, no employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
“With a strong culture of orientation to safety and safe practices, this company devised its own systems very quickly, turning to CDC resources and other best practices out there long before the state had manufacturing guidelines,” North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said.
The facility has 25 open positions, and over the past 30 days has experienced challenges hiring despite a much higher local unemployment percentage than prior to the pandemic.
It was suspected that increased unemployment benefits established through federal relief legislation that provide people an additional $600 per week may play a part.
That funding expires at the end of July, and Stefanik does not support extending it through to the end of the year as has been proposed in the House.
“From my perspective, we want to incentivize people going back to work,” she said, adding that perhaps government support should go toward back-to-work bonuses.
Zeisloft said the company has struggled with reductions in the Canadian-Pacific Railway schedule from five to two days each week, concerns he has relayed to Stefanik’s office.
Douglas said the company’s reasoning has been a decrease in business due to COVID-19, even though demand is up for some Plattsburgh manufacturers.
Zeisloft added that, looking ahead to the fall, employees with children are concerned about whether distance learning will become a long-term issue.
Stefanik mentioned ongoing discussions about the importance of American manufacturing.
“I think this region is a prime example of the competitive advantage that we have when it comes to North American manufacturing.
“We make things in this region, that’s been a refrain of the North Country Chamber that’s worked hard over decades to attract manufacturers here, so I think it’s a great success … to highlight what you’re (Mold-Rite) doing here.”
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