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Tessy Plastics to lay off up to 400 employees

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

But the manufacturer gives all workers a $2,000 check

Tessy Plastics Corp. plans to lay off up to 400 people as it stops making products that it doesn’t deem “essential” as the company deals with the state’s social-distancing directive. The layoffs especially impacted the firm’s plant in Van Buren, pictured here. The company also gave its 1,000 employees $2,000 apiece to help them with their household finances during the shutdown. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ FILE PHOTO)

SKANEATELES — Tessy Plastics Corp. plans to lay off up to 400 people but is also giving each of its 1,000 employees a check for $2,000 to help them make due financially as the firm ceases production of items it doesn’t deem “essential.”

The moves are part of the manufacturer’s efforts to comply with state requirements on social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The layoffs will mostly impact Tessy’s Van Buren plant, but they’ll also affect its operations in Skaneateles and Elbridge.

The Van Buren plant manufactures underarm deodorant containers, which the company doesn’t see as an “essential” product. 

“We feel it’s probably the proper thing to do … to shut that down for the time being … the whole plant,” says Roland Beck, president of Tessy Plastics

All Tessy employees get the $2,000 check, whether they’re laid off or not, he notes. 

Headquartered in Skaneateles, Tessy is a contract manufacturer of custom plastic-injection molded products for both the medical and consumer industries. 

“Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be laying off more and more, so there’s less than a thousand now,” says Beck about his workforce count. He spoke with CNYBJ on March 24. 

When asked if he plans to call the workers back once the COVID-19 health emergency is under control, Beck replies, “Absolutely. Hopefully, it doesn’t last too long.”

The payments will cost Tessy Plastics about $2 million. 

 

Decision-making

Beck explains he had to make a difficult decision once he learned Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted all non-essential businesses to shut down (have 100 percent of their staff work from home) to encourage social distancing to slow the coronavirus spread.

He had the firm’s attorneys review Cuomo’s order and they thought pretty much all the products that Tessy makes would enable the company to keep operations going. 

“So, we continued to run for a few more days,” says Beck. 

But as the number of coronavirus cases started to substantially increase statewide, Beck says the company decided to tell the employees that they didn’t have to come to work. 

“You can take your vacation … We’re not going to hold it against you,” says Beck, paraphrasing what he told his employees. “If you don’t feel comfortable, stay home.” 

Beck was still seeing employees arrive for their shifts, figuring their individual situations required that they work. But, realizing that government and public-health officials were stressing the need for social distancing to combat the spread of the virus, he also began to wonder if some of his employees would feel better if they didn’t have to come to work.

“Until we sort this out … I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to be at work … to [show up for their shift]. I’m going to give them permission to be gone. I’m giving them money so they can afford to be gone and anybody who doesn’t want to be here at that point … [can stay home],” says Beck.

He informed the workforce on March 23 and figured many Tessy employees would be “taking the opportunity to not come to work.”

And he also knew that Tessy would have to cease production on products that the company didn’t deem “essential.”  

“The underarm containers … they’re not essential. They’re probably the least-essential thing that we make,” says Beck. 

So, Tessy decided “it’d be wise” to shut down most operations at its Van Buren plant “for the time being.”

He also noted that Tessy has “quite an inventory” of deodorant containers, so Beck doesn’t think it will be a problem for any of its customers. 

The company also shut down production on other industry products that aren’t “essential,” he added.

About 285 people work at the Van Buren plant, some of whom will be transferred to other plants, according to Beck. As of March 24, the plant was operating with a “skeleton crew” for shipping purposes, he adds.       

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