Sitting across the table from Pratt and Whitney management in Cromwell, CT, IAM International President Bob Martinez joined the bargaining committees for IAM Locals 700 and 1746 (District 26) to open contract talks with the aerospace engine manufacturer.
Pratt and Whitney, which employs about 3,000 IAM members at plants in Middletown and East Harford, CT, has an expected backlog of $1 trillion in engine business. It plans on hiring approximately 8,000 new workers in Connecticut through 2026.
The current three-year contract was narrowly approved amidst layoffs and slumping sales in 2013. This time around, IAM members deserve the respect they’ve earned, said Martinez.
“Do not underestimate the resolve of our members,” said Martinez. “We are always ready to partner with companies, but not companies that make huge profits and then turn on us, going after workers’ benefits. I congratulate Pratt on the volume of orders and the success of the products. Our members are a part of that success and want to share in it. One thing they’re not interested in is going backward—on pensions, healthcare or anything else.”
In their opening statement, Pratt and Whitney praised IAM members for their dedication and hard work, but also said something telling: Despite record profits, “cost issues need to be addressed.”
IAM District 26 Assistant Directing Business Representative Mike Stone, the IAM’s lead negotiator for the talks, said management needs a “reality check,” beginning with health care and job security.
“If you want to hire more people, you’ll have to address that,” said Stone.
The IAM has taken Pratt and Whitney to court twice over job security protections, and won both times.
“We’re going to put in whatever hours are necessary to get this done,” said Stone. “Let’s negotiate a good contract.”
IAM members at Pratt and Whitney will hold a strike sanction vote on Friday, October 4. The current contract expires December 4.