Court Rejects Pratt & Whitney Jobs Move from CT

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A federal appeals court has rejected Pratt & Whitney's plan to move 1,000 jobs out of Connecticut.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Thursday upheld a federal judge's ruling that said the jet engine maker, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., failed to make every reasonable effort to avoid shutting two engine repair plants in the state.

Pratt wanted to close two plants in Cheshire and East Hartford and move jobs to Columbus, Georgia, Japan and Singapore.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal argued the case in June.

The judges decided that U.S. District Judge Janet Hall's injunction in February against the jobs move was supported by her findings that Pratt & Whitney breached its contract with the union.

"“I urge the company to abandon further efforts to overturn this decision and instead seek common ground with workers and the state in keeping jobs in Connecticut,” Blumenthal said in a news release.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued a statement on Thursday about the ruling.

“Today’s ruling is great news for Connecticut, but even better news for the 1,000 Pratt workers and their families who would have been affected if these jobs were moved out of state.  ... We are certainly pleased with the outcome,” Rell said. “But today’s ruling should not take our attention away from the Number 1 issue: We must continue to improve Connecticut's business climate and we must continue to make our state more attractive for investment and job creation.”

James Parent, the chief negotiator for the Machinists, called the decision "great news."

"Victory is ours again," he said.

In a statement, Pratt & Whitney said it faced an "uphill battle" to reverse the lower court's decision.

"We believe we acted in good faith and genuinely made every reasonable effort" to keep the jobs in Connecticut, the company said.

Pratt & Whitney has scaled back operations in Connecticut since the 1960s when more than 20,000 workers were employed. The company now employs 11,000 in Connecticut, fewer than one-third of its global work force.

Behind the union's lawsuit is the fear among workers about growing Asian markets, lower labor and other production costs in the South and overseas and the decline in Connecticut's manufacturing industries.

The union has said its legal victory is temporary because it expects another round in the fight over job preservation when its contract with Pratt & Whitney expires Dec. 5.

Pratt & Whitney said it has made no decision on what action it will take related to jobs when the contract expires.

"As we approach that time, we will examine market conditions, customer decisions and the performance of our facilities. The process will include negotiations with the IAM as part of the discussions for the new contract," the company said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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