CORNING | Corning Inc. officials say their manufacturing facilities in New York are all considered “essential” under state guidelines and will continue to operate.


Company spokesman Joe Dunning said the plants “manufacture products specifically identified as necessary to support essential infrastructure, industries, or the health, safety and welfare of the public.”


The company’s experience with earlier outbreaks in other countries where Corning Inc. operates has helped to prepare it to safely continue operations in these circumstances, Dunning said.


“We have an aggressive internal campaign called ‘Responsible Corning’ to help keep employees healthy in the workplace, and to protect their families and communities,” he said in an email to The Leader. “Beyond that, we are applying playbooks, protocols and guidelines that we have successfully used in China and South Korea during their outbreaks to protect our people and ensure the continuity of our business. This gives us confidence in our approach as we address fast-changing circumstances across the globe.


“Corning Incorporated’s highest priority has been the safety of our employees and workplaces while serving the needs of our customers.”


Non-manufacturing workers are being required to work from home, but that is not possible in all cases, Dunning said.


“A number of Corning employees at workplaces that are not deemed essential by the New York state mandate, and whose jobs are such that they cannot be performed remotely, will be subject to involuntary layoffs,” he said.


United Steelworkers Local 1000 President Warren Baker told The Leader’s news partner WETM 18 News that there have been 367 union layoffs and an unknown number of non-union layoffs in recent days.


Baker said those layoffs were primarily from the company’s headquarters in downtown Corning, the Sullivan Park research facility and the Corning Museum of Glass.


Dunning said Corning Inc. officials are trying to help employees affected by those layoffs.


“Because this is driven by government mandate, in an emergency situation, we are taking extraordinary measures to provide help in the form of a $1,500 payment in their next paycheck,” he said. “This will not impact unemployment benefits and helps them through this challenging period.”