Machinists Ratify Contract and Face Job Cuts

Dec 9, 2013

Pratt and Whitney's East Hartford headquarters.

Machinists at jet engine maker Pratt and Whitney have voted narrowly to accept a new three year contract. The deal was controversial because of differences over job security.

Weeks of tense negotiations ended in what the International Association of Machinists saw as an unsatisfactory compromise for a contract that will cover 2,800 workers. The two locals involved recommended that their membership reject the deal, but in the end it was ratified in a squeaker of a vote. Just 86 votes separated the yeas from the nays, averting a promised strike had the membership gone against the contract.

The deal includes 140 job cuts, fewer than the 252 Pratt and Whitney had originally targeted, but still a bitter pill for the union.

These are uncertain times for the engine maker, as sequestration squeezes its military output. It has boosted its profitability this year largely by increasing productivity and cutting jobs.

The contract raises pay by 2.5 percent in each of the three years, and includes pension and 401k increases. The job cuts will come in materials handling. Workers will first be offered a buyout deal before any layoffs are implemented.