As Remington prepares to resume production, labour troubles looming

Remington appears ready to resume firearms production in coming weeks, but as the company’s new owners make plans to fire up the plant, it seems labour troubles are brewing.

Just before Christmas, the new owners at Remington sent a letter out to 200 former employees, offering them jobs starting on February 15. That might sound like good news, especially during the holiday season, but the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) disagreed.

Remington furloughed roughly 700 workers when it shut down its plant due to bankruptcy, and the UMWA represents many of those employees. The union has issues with many of the terms in the deal offered to the 200 potential returnees, says The new RemArms offer went directly to employees, not through the union, and the labour leaders certainly don’t like that. Then, the employees invited back weren’t selected on the basis of seniority, which is a stipulation in the old contract with Remington. As well, Remington offered “at-will” employment, meaning they could be easily fired, with no union protection. And, Remington also asked them to give up rights to separation pay and other benefits.

When Roundhill bought Remington a few months back, part of the deal was that they’d stick to RemArms’ old labour contract. With that in mind, this could be a mess that takes a while to sort out, potentially delaying any Remington reboot.

Still, there’s plenty of time until February 15. Hopefully RemArms and the UMWA will be able to get everything sorted out, and resume production at that point. There’s certainly no shortage of demand in the US right now, although RemArms’ new owners have emphasized their goal of producing hunting firearms, not tactical rifles.

What about Marlin?

There’s been little news about Marlin’s revival since Ruger bought it for $30 million. At first, Ruger actually considered producing some Marlin rifles in its North Carolina plant, and others in New Hampshire. Lately, there’s been little talk of the company’s future. Ruger bigwigs supposedly say they expect to ship Marlin rifles in the second half of 2021. If that’s true, it’s hard to imagine we’ll see many of those firearms in Canada before 2022.

What about the ammo business?

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s basically none of the classic yellow/green Remington hunting ammo on shelves these days. That’s because Remington’s ammo manufacturing also shut down when the owners declared bankruptcy. Vista Outdoors bought most of that business (Sierra bought Barnes Bullets). You can bet Vista is very keen on using Remington’s production capacity to make up its $1 billion backlog in orders.