Executives of Pratt & Whitney go to court this week to defend their decision to close two Connecticut facilities with the loss of more than a thousand jobs. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.
This court battle has been forced by the International Association of Machinists, the union representing the workers at the Cheshire and East Hartford repair plants that face losing their livelihood. Pratt claims the plants are too expensive, and that it can do the work as much as 40% cheaper in Georgia and Singapore. But there’s a clause in the workers’ contract saying the company must make every reasonable effort to keep work in Connecticut. The union claims that hasn’t been done, and has asked Judge Janet Hall in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport to rule against the company. It’s a strategy that’s worked before – the same judge in 2000 did order the company to reverse a closure because of the clause.
Pratt representatives met for several weeks with union leaders to discuss the planned closures this summer, and it’s likely the substance of those talks will be key evidence in the trial. The state also took a hand, offering incentives worth up to $100 million to the company if they would keep the work in Connecticut, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced last week that he has filed an amicus brief in support of the union. It’s possible that Louis Chenevert the CEO of Pratt’s parent company United Technologies, could be called to testify as the hearing gets underway. The trial is scheduled for two days this week, and then two more in January.
For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.