Pratt & Whitney Fights With Connecticut Over Jobs

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney is fighting the Connecticut attorney general's legal effort to help workers block the move of 1,000 jobs from the state.

In a brief filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's request to file a friend of the court brief backing the International Association of Machinists is partisan.

"This court needs no special assistance from the attorney general's office to evaluate the evidence and to decide this two-party breach of contract case," the company said.

Giving the Democratic attorney general a "more expansive role in what is a contractual dispute between two private parties" would break with precedent in Connecticut and may provide a platform "for more partisan pronouncements by the attorney general," Pratt & Whitney said.

The company said in a statement Wednesday it does not object to Blumenthal's request to participate as a friend of the court, which it said is the judge's decision to grant.

Blumenthal said in an e-mail that his job is to "advocate a broader public interest."

He said he will try to show that Pratt & Whitney "failed to seriously consider" a proposal by Gov. M. Jodi Rell offering $100 million in tax and other incentives "and otherwise bargain in good faith as required by law."

Blumenthal asked U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall last week for permission to file a friend of the court brief. He said the state has an interest in avoiding economic hardship and disruption to workers and their families and "preventing the other damaging direct and indirect effects" on Connecticut's economy.

The International Association of Machinists, which represents 3,700 workers at Pratt & Whitney, has sued the company to halt plans to move 1,000 jobs to Columbus, Ga., Singapore and Japan. The union accuses Pratt & Whitney of negotiating in bad faith and failing to comply with its contract with the union requiring it to make "every reasonable effort" to preserve the jet engine repair jobs in Connecticut.

Pratt & Whitney has announced it will shut its Cheshire plant by early 2011 and shift some operations from its East Hartford facility beginning in the second quarter of next year.

The company, which has been hurt by the steep downturn in commercial aviation, insists it has complied with the contract and worked with the union in an unsuccessful attempt to save the jobs.

In afternoon trading, United Technologies shares rose $1.23, or 2 percent, to $63.20.

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