- FUN FEATURES
In an effort to preserve 1,000 Connecticut jobs, the state is offering engineering giant Pratt & Whitney $100 million in benefits over a five-year period.
The news from Gov. M. Jodi Rell comes on the heels of Pratt & Whitney’s Machinist Union offering its own concessions, reportedly upwards of $63 million. The original deadline for an agreement to be reached had been set for Sept. 6, but was extended a week and now it expires in three days.
According to Rell, the benefits package is aimed to prevent the layoffs at plants in Cheshire and East Hartford, as well as strengthen Pratt & Whitney’s presence in the sate.
“I am totally committed to saving these good-paying jobs and to protecting the hundreds of workers and families who depend on them,” Rell said. “Pratt & Whitney is a key element of our economy. Losing jobs at the Cheshire Engine Center and Connecticut Airfoil Repair Operation in East Hartford would be a blow to our state – but this is about more than statistics and economic impact, it is about the employees and their families and the lives they lead in our state.”
The impact locally in Cheshire would be around 800 jobs cut and a loss of approximately $136,000 in tax revenue. U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy (D-5) previously stated that other businesses could be affected because of the plant closure, as workers frequent other businesses in town. On Aug. 25, Murphy, with 21 other legislators and Rell, wrote a letter to Pratt & Whitney President David Hess, urging him to not close the two plants and work with the state and union to find a solution to prevent the loss of jobs. Murphy was also concerned with national security, as the Cheshire facility repairs F-117 Nighthawk engines for the military and that work could be outsourced to another country. On Sept. 3, Murphy said the offers from the state and the unions gave Pratt & Whitney what it needed to stop the closures and lauded the efforts of the groups involved.
“This package, along with concessions from the union, gives Pratt & Whitney what they need to keep people working in Cheshire and East Hartford for years to come,” Murphy said. “The Machinists (Union), the Governor and elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels have been part of a team effort to do everything possible to save these jobs, and I’m thrilled we’re closer than ever to making this happen. I commend Governor Rell for stepping up to the plate with this package.”
Pratt & Whitney issued a brief statement Friday afternoon, stating that the deadline was extended for another week to allow for further discussion with the union and state.
“We will give full consideration to any proposals presented by the union and the State of Connecticut through these discussions as part of our continuing effort to evaluate ways to preserve the work in the Cheshire Engine Center and CARO in Connecticut,” the statement read.
James Parent, who is part of the negotiations for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said Tuesday that the Union and Pratt agreed to a media blackout in the final week of negotiations, but said the extended deadline was appropriate given all the moving pieces in the offers.
“It gives the company more time to fully understand what the state is willing to offer,” Parent said. “We’re in the process of structuring proposals.”
Parent confirmed the Union made an offer Tuesday morning and fully expected counter-offers to be presented until the Sunday deadline, but would not elaborate on the specifics.
“I don’t know if it will take the whole time, who knows” Parent said. “If it does, so be it, but I’m glad we got the extension.”
According to a press release from Rell, she meet with Louis R. Chênevert, president and chief executive officer of Pratt’s parent company, East Hartford-based United Technologies, to discuss the plan. According to Rell, the plan includes lifting the 70 percent cap on corporation business tax credits for United Technologies, offering training assistance, creating a job retention tax credit, investing in machinery and equipment, and constructing an Engineering Center of Excellence.
“I intend not only to save jobs today but build a long-term partnership that will position the state of Connecticut, Pratt, and our state’s entire aerospace industry for growth and success in the future,” Rell said. “While saving jobs right away is a key focus, I am also looking for a partnership with Pratt in cultivating a dynamic, tech-savvy work force. That is a resource that will benefit the state and the company for decades.”
Pratt & Whitney employs 11,000 people, which makes up roughly 30 percent of the United Technologies workforce.
Rell said the state’s plan does more than offset costs; rather, it works on “our shared economic future.”
“From the start, we knew this would need to be a team effort,” Rell said. “I am proud of the collective effort put forth by the state and the union to keep these jobs in Connecticut.”