By NEMS Daily Journal
Winchester, a name synonymous with both military and sporting arms and ammunition in the United States, drew hundreds of prospective employees for its new Oxford Centerfire plant to a jobs fair at the Oxford Conference Center on Tuesday, the kind of response every employer wants to see for a new factory.
Centerfire, which is part of Winchester Ammunition, a company owned by Olin Inc., plans to hire 200 to 250 by December for the new plant that eventually will employ 800.
Centerfire is moving to Oxford because employees at a plant in East Alton, Ill., chose loyalty to a labor union and its position over Olin’s final contract offer during a labor dispute. Olin announced soon after that it would move its Centerfire operations to Oxford, where it already has another Winchester operation, Rimfire, which handles military contracts.
Oxford’s leaders and economic development officials were ready when a union pushed too hard. Unions membership has fallen in the Midwest because unsustainable union contracts cost too much. Mississippi and every other state will try to take advantage of those situations and bring good, long-lasting jobs to out state, not to bust unions but to increase prosperity for employees here.
Northeast Mississippi communities like Oxford and Lafayette County value every new job, especially during a lingering recessionary economy when unemployment is higher than normal, even in a strong-employment county like Lafayette.
Winchester’s jobs available include some management/supervisory positions as well as production employees. Combined with Rimfire, the Winchester presence will employ about 350 people within a year, then move toward hundreds more during the next five years.
National partisan politics aside, jobs have been moving to right-to-work states (no forced union (shops) like Mississippi for a long time.
The 22 right-to-work states, one report says, gained 37.9 percent in employment from 1993 to 2009 – 15.8 million jobs, compared to 19.6 percent (14.5 million jobs) in forced-union states.
Twenty-one states, in addition to Mississippi, have right-to-work laws: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
The right-to-work states in the South are Mississippi’s chief competitors for new jobs, those moving and those being created.
The quality of a workplace and its autonomy are important factors in the development of today’s jobs. Winchester’s decision is a good example of the changes in American manufacturing.