Court to Pratt: ‘Stay Where You Are’

In a major legal victory for Connecticut’s IAM members, the U.S. District Court issued an injunction against Pratt & Whitney, prohibiting them from moving work and equipment out of their Cheshire and East Hartford CARO operations. The decision by Judge Janet Hall sustains a lawsuit brought by IAM District 26 on behalf of more than 1,000 members working in those locations.

The lawsuit was initiated after Pratt & Whitney management informed the Machinists union last July of their intentions to close the two facilities, putting more than 1,000 hourly and salary workers out on the street. Under the union contract, management has an obligation to make every reasonable effort to preserve the work in Connecticut, and to explore alternatives to do so with union representatives.

Despite more than $80 millions in concessions and incentives offered by the union, and up to $100 million in proposed aid from the State of Connecticut, the company rejected all proposals, sticking to its plan to shut down these work sites.

In a stinging rebuke to Pratt, the judge’s found that not only did the company fail to make “every reasonable effort” to consider alternatives as required by the contract, but “The record demonstrates a very strong effort by Pratt to make the appearance of making ‘every reasonable effort.'”

The ruling is also a victory for the State of Connecticut. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal submitted an amicus brief in support of the Machinists union’s position, and argued in court about the importance of the IAM contract to the people of Connecticut.

Today’s ruling stops the company’s immediate plans to move the affected work to Georgia, Singapore and Japan. But the collective bargaining agreement the court upheld expires on December 10, 2010. The Machinists union and its members will be gearing up to preserve these jobs and expand opportunities in the next contract.