Hamilton Sundstrand Machinists Approve New Contract

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) -- Machinists at aviation electronics manufacturer Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract, though the union's chief negotiator said job security issues remain unresolved.

Members of Local 743 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted Sunday in Windsor Locks, where the company is based. Union officials say only about 5 percent of voting members opposed the contract.

The contract includes 2.5 percent pay raises for each of the three years, but workers will have to pay more for health insurance. The average hourly wage of about $30 will increase by 76 cents this year and rise to nearly $33 an hour by the end of the contract in 2012, said James Parent, the Machinists' chief negotiator.

The union represents 1,063 workers at Hamilton Sundstrand, a division of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp.

Parent said the company refused to provide job security language similar to what Machinists have in the contract with jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, also a United Technologies subsidiary. He said it was "pretty clear" negotiations were driven by the parent company, not Hamilton Sundstrand.

"The company made it clear they're not Pratt," Parent said.

Hamilton Sundstrand spokesman Dan Coulom called the agreement a "very good contract" in a weak economy.

"We think we made a very good offer and the workers obviously do, too," he said.

The contract between the union and Pratt & Whitney requires the company to "make every reasonable effort" to keep jobs in Connecticut. However, the union and company are arguing in federal appeals court over what precisely "every reasonable effort" means as Pratt & Whitney seeks to transfer 1,000 Connecticut jobs to Georgia, Japan and Singapore.

The contract with Pratt & Whitney will expire in December, and job security is expected to be a major issue in negotiations for the next contract.

Hamilton Sundstrand is doing better than Pratt & Whitney, which is still feeling the impact of the downturn in the airline industry. Hamilton Sundstrand has broader exposure to the improving economy with an industrial business that supplies control equipment and components for power generating systems, said Rick Whittington, an analyst at JSA Research Inc.

Operating profit at Hamilton Sundstrand jumped 15 percent in the first quarter, to $221 million. Profit remained unchanged at Pratt & Whitney, at $436 million.

Jobs at Hamilton Sundstrand have remained fairly steady, ranging from 1,050 in 2003 to about 1,200 in 2008 and down to 1,063 following cuts due to delays in the Boeing 787 jetliner, Parent said.

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