East Hartford P&W Workers Reject Strike
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Machinists union officials expressed shock that workers at a Pratt & Whitney plant reaffirmed their decision not to join 5,000 workers striking the giant defense contractor at other plants.
Only 55 percent of the members of Machinists Local 1746 in East Hartford voted Wednesday to strike, well short of the two-thirds majority required for a walkout, officials said. The vote was 2,355-1,945.
The vote at East Hartford was the second for local members since Sunday, when the union claimed some workers were mistakenly prevented from voting.
A federal judge cleared the way for the second strike vote on Tuesday, by rejecting a company request for an injunction to stop the vote.
About 5,000 Machinists members at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Group’s three other plants in Middletown, North Haven and Southington went on strike Monday.
″I’m still stunned by the results,″ said George Almeida, a Machinists International representative who had said results earlier in the day indicated the union would get the two-thirds strike vote.
The East Hartford workers did vote 3,266-1,034 to reject the company’s latest contract offer, officials said.
Rudy Buck, president of Local 1746, said the union is advising the East Hartford workers to stay on the job. But he said that because the contract was rejected, the East Hartford workers have the right to refuse to cross picket lines that the other striking workers may set up there.
Contract talks broke off Friday after negotiators failed to reach agreement on wages, pensions, health insurance benefits and job security.
No new talks were scheduled.
The workers now earn an average of $11.69 an hour. In its final proposal, Pratt & Whitney offered a $300 one-time bonus to each bargaining unit employee plus lump-sum payments equal to 3.5 percent of wages in each of the contract’s first two years.
″We’re delighted and grateful to the Pratt & Whitney workers for reaffirming the vote not to strike,″ said company spokesman Thomas Drohan.
Officials at the jet engine company said the East Hartford plant was automatically covered under the new contact after the union failed to gain the necessary votes for a strike.
Despite the strike, the plants in Middletown, Southington and North Haven remained open Wednesday.