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Pratt & Whitney Union Fights for Connecticut Jobs

Wednesday, 22 Jul 2009 10:56 AM

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, seeking to cut costs, said it may shut some manufacturing operations in Connecticut, eliminating about 1,000 jobs.

The subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. said Wednesday it is "evaluating the closure" of its Cheshire plant and some operations in East Hartford if it fails to find alternative cost-savings.

It said it has notified the International Association of Machinists, which represents 3,800 workers at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, and hopes to begin meeting soon with union officials to review "how labor costs, quality and competitiveness might be addressed and to work together to identify feasible alternatives to moving the work outside of Connecticut."

Pratt & Whitney, which employs about 11,000 workers in Connecticut, operates plants in Cheshire, East Hartford and Middletown. It has vastly scaled back operations in the state since the 1960s, when more than 20,000 workers were employed, shutting plants and shifting work elsewhere in the United States and to other countries.

The union said Pratt & Whitney is seeking to "abandon ship and take off with the lifeboats."

James Parent, the union's representative, said the Machinists' contract with Pratt & Whitney prevents Pratt & Whitney from closing the Cheshire plant until after the contract expires in December 2010. The company is required to preserve work at Connecticut plants, but how that is accomplished will be discussed by the two parties.

Pratt & Whitney will be required to provide detailed financial information about how it believes it would save money by moving work elsewhere, Parent said. Furloughs, temporary layoffs and other measures could be used instead of shutting the plant, he said

United Technologies reported Tuesday that second-quarter profit dropped nearly 24 percent as it posted double-digit declines in key businesses, including Pratt & Whitney.

Sales of commercial spare parts for Pratt & Whitney were down 25 percent as other businesses such as Otis elevator and Carrier also reported steep order declines.

Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes told investor analysts in a conference call Tuesday that cost-cutting will help spur a rise in profit beginning next year, but the company does not expect a significant economic recovery next year.

Analysts praised United Technologies for its cost-cutting, saying the company is preparing itself for a difficult recovery from the worst recession in decades.

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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, seeking to cut costs, said it may shut some manufacturing operations in Connecticut, eliminating about 1,000 jobs.The subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. said Wednesday it is "evaluating the...
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