Furloughed Sikorsky Employees Will Return to Work

Sunday, Oct 6, 2013  |  Updated 10:47 AM EDT
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Furloughed Sikorsky Employees Will Return to Work

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has announced that it will cancel its plans to furlough thousands of employees in response to the government shutdown, according to company officials.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the corporation said Saturday it would bring back the 2,000 workers it had planned to furlough in light of the Pentagon's decision to call back its work force.

Sikorsky employees will return to work this evening.

The corporation held an emergency union meeting on Thursday to sort out ways to help the 2,200 workers who were scheduled to be furloughed. Employees had been told to file for unemployment.

According to a company statement released on Tuesday, the shutdown “has severely impacted and in some areas completely stopped Sikorsky’s ability to manufacture and support helicopters used by all branches of the United States military.”

The statement goes on to say:

“As a result of the government shutdown, we have no choice but to furlough approximately 2,000 employees across the enterprise effective Monday, October 7th, if a budget agreement is not reached and the government shutdown ended before then. If the shutdown continues through next week, we will have to furlough an additional 1,000 employees.

"As we stated earlier this week, we could manage the impact of a shutdown for a short time, but would not be able to sustain production for any extended period without an adverse impact.

"The production and delivery of Sikorsky helicopters for the Department of Defense cannot proceed without the help of our valued Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) partners who have been furloughed due to the government shutdown. DCMA personnel are a critical and required part of our U.S. Government aircraft and parts inspection, acceptance, and delivery processes."

Sikorsky, which makes Black Hawk helicopters, said some defense manufacturing was forced to shut down due to the furlough of government inspectors. Without inspectors, the company can't gain approval to produce military equipment.

Parent company United Technologies Corp., said in a release that the furloughs will affect Sikorsky employees in Stratford, where the helicopter manufacturer is based, as well as West Palm Beach, Fla. and Troy, Ala.

UTC said Pratt & Whitney and Aerospace Systems will also be affected if the shutdown continues.

Company-wide furloughs will affect 4,000 workers if the shutdown continues into next week, a number that will jump to more than 5,000 if the shutdown lasts through next month, according to the release.

Connecticut legislators urged the federal government to take action.

“This is what happens when House Republicans decide that political gamesmanship is more important than people’s jobs, said Gov. Dannel Malloy, in a statement. "It’s unconscionable that so many working families would be unfairly put in this situation."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro said, "Unless the Republicans end this self-inflicted crisis soon, nearly half of Sikorsky's hourly workforce will be furloughed with more to come, causing great harm to them and their families."

Just last month, Sikorsky cut 200 hourly jobs, blaming federal budget cuts that took effect in March. The company also laid off 200 salaried workers in June.

Altogether, Sikorsky employs roughly 15,800 people.

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