Aircraft Engine Maker Pratt & Whitney Request Court To Act Quickly <


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Aircraft Engine Maker Pratt & Whitney Request Court To Act Quickly

Daniel Guevarra

March 5, 2010 - On Thursday, Pratt & Whitney went into court to request the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Hartford, Connecticut to act quickly on an appeal before the court on a lower court decision that prevents the jet engine maker from moving over 1,000 job's out of the state and country. Pratt & Whitney indicated they needed a decision before their machinists contract expires December 5, 2010.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in a brief filed with the lower court, U.S. District Court, said that Pratt & Whitney had failed to demonstrate that the transfer of 1,000 Connecticut jobs out of state and overseas would result in any savings during the term of its union contract.

Blumenthal said the company also proved through its own case at trial that it violated its collective bargaining agreement and failed to consider reasonable offers by the union and state to avoid devastating job cuts.

Blumenthal said the evidence demonstrates that Pratt never had any intentions of trying to preserve these jobs. Instead, the company made demands to the union and state -- dubiously disguised as good-faith negotiations -- that were unreasonable, unnecessary and impossible. Blumenthal asked the court for a declaratory judgment that Pratt's plan to transfer Connecticut jobs out of state breaches its collective bargaining agreement -- and  order permanently barring Pratt from transferring the jobs out of state during the term of the current collective bargaining agreement.

"Pratt & Whitney presented a great case against itself -- demonstrating that it failed to negotiate in good faith with the union and state, and that it cannot lawfully move Connecticut jobs to Singapore, Japan and other states. Pratt should not be permitted to eliminate jobs, causing harm to Connecticut's economy and profound financial distress to hundreds of families, in violation of its binding contractual promises to its workers. Pratt has not demonstrated that transfer of this work -- work that has consistently and increasingly generated profits -- would result in any savings during the term of the present contract," Blumenthal said.

"Pratt disingenuously demanded concessions that it knew to be impossible, callously violating its legal agreement with workers to make every reasonable effort to preserve work, even when the concession cost savings outweighed the expense of transferring jobs. Despite its determination to betray its contract with workers, Pratt performed a gross charade of negotiations with the state and union. The company's own executives essentially admitted their own sham, testifying that Pratt had no intention of accepting the concessions it dubiously demanded. The court cannot in good conscience allow Pratt to violate its legal and moral obligations -- devastating families, and damaging the entire state economy."

On February 5, 2010, U.S. District Court, Judge Janet Hall in an 85-page decision issued a permanent injunction on the company's restructuring plan during the term of International Association of Machinists collective bargaining agreement, which will expires on Dec. 10, 2010. Since last July, Pratt and United Technologies (UTC) have repeatedly rejected requests from federal, state and community leaders to consider ways to work with their employees, the Machinists union and the state government to keep open profitable work centers in Cheshire and East Hartford.

?Pratt & Whitney is adding insult to injury by filing an appeal of the court decision castigating them for failing to make an effort to preserve work in Connecticut. The appeal comes a day after the company announced layoffs in the locations they were barred by court order from closing. Our country is facing the most severe economic crisis in our lifetime,? said, District 26 Directing Business Representative Everett Corey. ?UTC?s response to their court defeat is not just a slap in the face to workers, it?s an insult to the taxpayers of this country, who pay this corporation millions of dollars every year.  They?re no different than Goldman Sachs ? stuffing their private bank accounts while sneering at the people who make them rich.  It?s disgusting.?

Jim Parent, Assistant DBR and chief negotiator for UTC matters, added: ?They won?t win an appeal; the judge?s decision was sound and the evidence was over-whelming.  They should stop wasting time and money and start working with us. Acting recklessly with people?s lives is irresponsible.?

Just two weeks after a federal judge issued an injunction against Pratt & Whitney to keep them from closing the Cheshire and East Hartford CARO plants in Connecticut, the company announced that it intends to lay off 119 workers at Cheshire and 44 in East Hartford. Pratt President David Hess then announced that the company would be appealing the court decision on their failure to make any effort to preserve Connecticut jobs. Under the IAM contract, Pratt is supposed to survey for volunteers before layoffs begin. But Pratt did not give union representatives any 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.?

After Pratt announced last July that they were closing the two plants and moving the work to Singapore, Japan and Georgia, the IAM won an injunction in federal court after showing that Pratt had violated the IAM contract?s provision to ?make every reasonable effort? to keep work in Connecticut. During the trial, evidence was presented that the company planned to claim a downturn in aerospace as an excuse for cutting Connecticut jobs. Pratt?s layoff announcement, with no discussion of alternatives, seemed to defy the court?s ruling, and indicated company executives didn?t learn any lessons from 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 Directing Business Representative (DBR). ?Instead, they think they can save face by punishing workers. It?s outrageous. If they want a fight, they will get one. My message to Pratt is simple: ?work with us to save jobs,?? said James Parent, District 26 Assistant DBR. ?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.?

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