Court Testimony Reveals Pratt Deception

A top labor relations executive for Pratt & Whitney testified in federal court Tuesday that the company purposely hid plans from the IAM to shut down its Cheshire, CT, plant. As reported by The Hartford Courant, P&W Vice President of Industrial Relations Rick Warters told a federal court the company deliberately evaded a direct inquiry from the IAM last February because “it creates panic and the potential for chaos.”

On Wednesday, the Courant reported that emails between Pratt executives read to the court by IAM counsel showed the company wanted the plant closed before contract negotiations with the IAM later this year. “If the Cheshire employees weren’t gone by September 2010 at the latest, we’ll have a problem. They’ll poison the … well,” said an email from Pratt’s top labor relations executive Rick Warters to the company’s vice president of human resources. Another email between company executives said,

“They need to use the 2010 volume drop as the rationale for Cheshire.” Further testimony Wednesday revealed emails disclosing P&W CEO Louis Chenevert’s refusal to delay the closing, even as IAM negotiations were underway.

P&W moved forward in negotiations with the IAM over the summer to keep the Cheshire plant, along with a smaller unit in East Hartford, open as required by the IAM contract that requires Pratt to make “every reasonable effort” to keep work in the state. The company later announced the plants would be shut down by 2011, eliminating more than 1,000 jobs. The IAM subsequently sued, alleging P&W had no intention of staying in Connecticut and negotiated in bad faith.

The trial concluded Wednesday. A decision is expected later this month.