Pratt & Whitney Machinists Ratify Contract

Three-year contract covering more than 4,100 workers includes raises of 3.5 percent each year and a signing bonus of $3,000.

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) — Machinists at jet-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney ratified a three-year contract on Sunday.
The contract, which includes raises of 3.5 percent each year and a signing bonus of $3,000, covers more than 4,100 workers at Pratt & Whitney plants in Cheshire, East Hartford and Middletown. It was approved by a vote of 2,831 to 326.
''There were no takeaways here at all, said James Parent, principal negotiator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. ''There was improvement in every area, except that we were unable to fight the company passing on more of the cost to the workers of the health-care premiums.''
In August, union members voted 1,485 to 798 to reject a contract that included a proposed 60 percent increase in health insurance premiums for workers. That did not change, Parent said.
But the company did move, he said, on another main sticking point, a commitment to keeping jobs in Connecticut.
Parent said the new deal includes language that will guarentee the jobs of electricians, plumbers, machine repair workers, and other support people.
''That's what really brought this package to be accepted overwhelmingly like it was,'' he said.
Parent said the company also put in writing that work for the military's Joint Strike Fighter and several other major projects will be done in Connecticut.
''This new contract recognizes that we all have a collective stake in the future success of this company,'' said Elizabeth Amato, vice president, Pratt & Whitney Human Resources. ''This success will help secure good jobs for Connecticut and keeps Pratt & Whitney the employer of choice for our people.''
During negotiations, Pratt & Whitney told the union that the workload for construction of jet engine fans and compressors will be higher in 2008 than this year, requiring more hourly employees, the Machinists said. Pratt & Whitney expects to build four or five GP7000 engines a month as compared with the same number per year, Parent said.
The engine is produced in an alliance between Pratt & Whitney and General Electric Co. for the Airbus A380.
Pratt has not laid off workers, but the number of employees has declined since December 2004 from nearly 4,500 to about 4,100 due to retirement and buyouts, Parent said.
Parent company United Technologies Corp. last month reported a 20 percent increase in third-quarter profit, though its 2008 outlook disappointed investors. Net income in the July-September period rose to $1.2 billion from $1 billion in the same quarter last year.
Also last month, Japanese machinery maker Mitsubishi Heavy and Pratt & Whitney announced it will use a Pratt & Whitney engine for its planned small jet. It will be the first ''made in Japan'' passenger aircraft in three decades.
In December 2004, machinists avoided a strike, rejecting the union leadership's recommendation against a proposed contract. Union officials faulted the agreement for, among other reasons, lacking guarantees of job security.
Parent said at the time that workers were unwilling to walk picket lines at the approach of Christmas.
The last strike against Pratt & Whitney in 2001 lasted 11 days.
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