Judge Hall Rules Cheshire & CARO Moves Violate Union Agreement
February 5, 2010 Kensington, CT – Connecticut’s US District Court tonight 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 the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 26 on behalf of its 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 a 45-day “meet and confer” process, millions in concessions 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.
Through the lawsuit, the Machinists Union was able to obtain evidence showing that Pratt and corporate parent, United Technologies Corporation, had been planning to close these facilities long before giving notice to the union, and had considered and rejected alternatives without assigning any extra value to options that would have kept the jobs in Connecticut, as the contract stipulates.
Today’s win 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 over-riding importance to the people of Connecticut of the IAM contract being enforced.
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 today upheld expires on December 10, 2010. The Machinists Union and its members will be gearing up for whatever fight is necessary to preserve these jobs and expand opportunities in the next contract.
Everett Corey, Directing Business Representative for IAM District 26, said: “This is welcome news for Pratt workers and their families. We are thankful for the excellent work done by our attorneys, Gregg Adler and Mary Kelly, and a whole team of leaders and activists who worked to preserve jobs through this important case. We also had great support from Attorney General Blumenthal, Governor Rell, the State Legislature, our Congressional delegation, and many other state and municipal leaders. This is truly a win for Team Connecticut.”
Jim Parent, IAM District 26 Assistant Directing Business Representative stated: “We have a big job ahead of us now, securing these jobs in the next contract. We’re ready for a fight, if that’s what it takes. But we hope that after the dust settles, the company will recognize what we have said all along – these are the most highly skilled overhaul, repair and refurbishment workers in the world. Pratt may think that moving the work will save costs, but quality and reliability are crucial in aerospace operations. If they want the best performance possible for their demanding customers, Pratt should keep the work here.”
The conclusion of Judge Hall’s 85-page decision is as follows:
For the foregoing reasons, the court finds for District 26 on both of its claims.
Pratt has violated its Letter 22 obligation to make “every reasonable effort” to preserve the work of the Cheshire and CARO collective bargaining unit members, and it has violated the CBA’s implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Therefore, the court hereby issues:
1. A declaratory judgment that Pratt’s announced plans to close the Cheshire and CARO facilities and to move the work performed at those facilities outside of Connecticut constitutes a breach of Letter 22 of the collective bargaining agreement between United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, and District 26;
2. A permanent injunction prohibiting United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney from implementing the restructuring plans described in the Ruling of February 5, 2010 to move the work presently and normally manufactured by Cheshire and CARO bargaining unit employees to locations outside of Connecticut during the term of the collective bargaining agreement.