Conn. A.G. pitches in to stem loss of union jobs‏

Nick Rees Oct. 10, 2009, 10:45am

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut's attorney general has asked a federal judge to allow him to file a friend of the court brief supporting a union lawsuit that would block about 1,000 jobs from being transferred out of state and overseas.

"I will fight Pratt &Whitney's attempt to outsource 1,000 well-paying state jobs in violation of its union contract," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "Loss of these jobs will have a powerful and pernicious impact not only on the workers and their families, but also on the state's economy, tax base and labor relations."

The lawsuit, filed by District Lodge 26 of the International Association of Machinists and Areospace Workers, charges that a labor agreement between the union and Pratt & Whitney would be violated if jobs were transferred. The union has asked the court to stop any layoffs.

The union, representing 3,700 Pratt & Whitney workers, contends that its union contract that expires in December 2010 will be violated by the company's failure to preserve their jobs.

Pratt & Whitney recently announced that its Cheshire plant would close by early 2011 and shift operations from its East Hartford facility in the second quarter of 2010 to facilities in Columbus, Ga., Singapore and Japan.

Blumenthal argues that the potential significant impact of the layoffs on the state economy as well as the loss of the collection of revenue for state government and labor relations should allow for his filing of a friend of the court brief.Blumenthal also noted that Pratt did not seriously consider the state's $100 million incentive package to cancel the layoffs.

"My office has a compelling and clear interest in assuring Pratt lives up to its labor agreement and should therefore be allowed to intervene," Blumenthal said. "The state can assist in demonstrating that the facts clearly entitle the plaintiff to enforcement of the parties' collectively bargained contractual obligations, including Pratt's obligation to undertake reasonable efforts to preserve work in Connecticut. As the plaintiff correctly alleges, Pratt has violated this obligation by failing to give appropriate weight and consideration to the state's $100 million incentive package, among other failings. Properly evaluated and considered, that incentive package would have permitted Pratt to maintain work in Connecticut without clear or substantial economic loss -- a fact that undermines any assertion that Pratt exercised reasonable efforts to maintain these jobs in Connecticut."

A victory in the case would extend the Pratt & Whitney workers contracts through 2009 to the end of next year, stopping efforts by the company to lay off the workers. The union won a similar battle in 2000 to stop the loss of jobs in Connecticut.

More News