Judge: Pratt can't move jobs out of US

HARTFORD: A federal U.S. judge ordered jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney to halt its plans to move 1,000 jobs out of Connecticut and to Japan, Singapore and the state of Georgia.

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport issued a permanent injunction, stopping the company's plans to shift the jobs.

The judge strongly criticized the subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., saying it evaded the spirit of its union contract requiring it to make every effort to keep the jobs in the state.

The union, which represents about 3,700 workers, hailed the decision. In its lawsuit, the union accused Pratt & Whitney of failing to comply with the contract that required it to do everything possible to preserve the jobs.

"This is a full win for the union," said James Parent, chief negotiator for the Machinists local.

Pratt & Whitney, reeling from a downturn in the aerospace industry, announced in September plans to shut its engine overhaul and repair plant in Cheshire by early 2011 and shift repair operations from its East Hartford facility beginning in the second quarter of this year.

Greg Brostowicz, a spokesman for Pratt & Whitney, said in an e-mailed statement that the company will consider all its options, including a possible appeal.

"We believe we upheld our contractual obligations to act in good faith and made every reasonable effort to keep this work in Connecticut," he said. "The fact remains that we face a declining aerospace market, a shifting customer base and a significant and permanent volume drop at these two facilities."

Hall said in her decision that Pratt's actions were not taken out of a "mistaken view" of what the contract required.

"To the contrary, Pratt understood its obligations, but decisively attempted to evade them," she said.

The union said its victory was only temporary because its contract with Pratt & Whitney expires in December.

"The Machinists union and its members will be gearing up for whatever fight is necessary to preserve these jobs and expand opportunities in the next contract," it said in a statement.