Workers Celebrate Legal Win at Pratt & Whitney

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, right, speaks to Local 1746-A members celebrating an appeals court decision upholding an IAM lawsuit that stopped Pratt & Whitney from shipping more than 1,000 jobs out of Connecticut. Joining the rally, from left, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Eastern Territory General Vice President Lynn Tucker, Jr. and District 26 DBR Everett Corey.

Several hundred members and families of Local 1746-A in Southington, CT, used their annual union picnic to celebrate the court victory that barred Pratt & Whitney from closing the Cheshire Engine Center and another plant in East Hartford.

In a major victory for job security language, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lawsuit brought by IAM District 26 against United Technologies Corporation (UTC), parent company of Pratt & Whitney. The court upheld an earlier ruling that found Pratt had not honored IAM contract language requiring the company to “make every reasonable effort” to preserve jobs in Connecticut.

Despite claims to the contrary by Pratt & Whitney, the judge ruled the company’s actions were not taken out of a “mistaken view” of what the contract required. “To the contrary,” said U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall, “Pratt understood its obligations, but decisively attempted to evade them.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who joined the Machinists suit against Pratt on behalf of the state, urged 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.

“This issue is not only about jobs. It’s about national security,” said Blumenthal, who was welcomed with cheers and applause by members at the Local 1746-A picnic. “When Americans go into battle, I want the best planes defending them and the best workers in the world maintaining those planes.”

Closure of the two plants would shift about 1,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs to other states and countries.

“No longer will the labor movement allow our jobs to be shipped offshore,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “It’s a sad day when we are asked to give up the repair work of American-built military aircraft engines to a foreign county. “We can’t allow tax dollars to be used to pay foreign countries to work on jet engines used by our military.” The appeals court ruling will remain in effect until the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement December 5, 2010.

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