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Pratt & Whitney Demands Quick Decision On Jobs Appeal

Fri, 03/05/2010 - 3:31am

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Pratt & Whitney asked a federal appeals court Thursday to act quickly on the jet engine maker's request to overturn a judge's ruling that blocks the company from moving 1,000 jobs out of Connecticut.

In a request to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Pratt & Whitney said a decision is needed soon to avoid financial harm because the company plans to shut two Connecticut plants immediately after its union contract expires in December.

The subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. said it wants a decision before its contract expires with the Machinists on Dec. 5. It intends to give "timely notice" that it will begin moving work to other plants and close the two facilities Dec. 6 as originally planned.

"Unless this appeal is expedited, the expiration of the injunction on Dec. 5 will almost certainly deprive Pratt of its right to appellate review because its appeal will become moot before the case is decided," the company said in its legal papers.

A legal proceeding that is not expedited "would necessarily result in further substantial and irreparable harm to Pratt's ongoing business operations," the company said.

Pratt's business at the two Connecticut plants "will suffer as it continues to face serious challenges from lower cost competitors," it said.

The Machinists union, which represents about 3,700 workers, sued Pratt & Whitney. It accused the company of violating the labor contract requiring it to make every reasonable effort to preserve jobs.

A U.S. District Court judge in Bridgeport agreed, ruling last month that Pratt & Whitney may not move the jobs as planned to Columbus, Ga., Japan and Singapore.

The company said it believes the judge misinterpreted the collective bargaining agreement. The facts presented at trial "demonstrate that every reasonable effort was made to keep this work in Connecticut and that we negotiated in good faith."

Pratt & Whitney has said it must cut costs in response to a downturn in commercial aviation due to the recession.

A call to the Machinists union's chief negotiator seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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