KENSINGTON, Conn. - Representatives of the International Association of Machinists were notified yesterday that Pratt & Whitney intends to lay off 119 workers in Cheshire and 44 in East Hartford. Company President David Hess then announced an appeal of the court decision which barred P&W from moving jobs out of Connecticut for the duration of the bargaining agreement because of their failure to abide by contract language requiring efforts to preserve Connecticut jobs.
Before layoffs begin, the company will survey for volunteers, as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. But union representatives were given no opportunity to suggest alternatives to layoffs, even though workers are being brought in on overtime in the same areas the company claims there is a "lack of work."
During the trial on the company's plot to circumvent the contract and move work out of state, evidence was presented that P&W, owned by the profitable United Technologies Corporation, planned to claim a downturn in aerospace as an excuse for cutting Connecticut jobs.
A union media release stressed that Tuesday's layoff announcement, with no discussion of alternatives, seems to "defy the court's ruling, and indicates company executives have not learned anything from the lessons of the trial."
"The top brass of Pratt & UTC were caught in lie after lie during the court trial. They should have owned up to their mistakes and sat down with us," said Everett Corey, IAM District 26's Directing Business Representative. "Instead, they think they can save face by punishing workers. It's outrageous. If they want a fight, they will get one," he concluded.
James Parent, IAM District 26 Assistant Directing Business Representative and chief IAM negotiator for UTC issues, responded, "My message to Pratt is simple: 'work with us to save jobs.' The same people who orchestrated the plant-closing fiasco for Pratt are pushing these layoffs. If they want to start cutting jobs, that's the people they should start with."
Two weeks ago, in a precedent-setting decision, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall ruled that the company violated the union contract by preparing to move operations to Georgia, Singapore and Japan without a good faith effort to find other solutions. She issued a permanent injunction on the company's restructuring plan during the term of the collective bargaining agreement, which expires on December 10, 2010.
As a result of countless battles for job security, the IAM won model language requiring the company to make every reasonable effort to preserve the work in Connecticut, and to explore alternatives with union representatives.
Photo: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now candidate for U.S. Senate, receives appreciation from Machinists at press conference announcing court victory barring movement of jobs. IAM