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Union, Pratt & Whitney In Final Days Of Pact Talks

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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Job security remains a top issue for the Pratt & Whitney machinists union, which said it’s not close to recommending a contract to members as it heads into the final days of negotiations with the company ahead of a vote scheduled for Sunday.

The machinists said the subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. intends to cut 190 jobs. About 3,000 workers are covered by the contract.

A spokesman said Pratt & Whitney would not comment on bargaining.

Pratt & Whitney’s military program is vulnerable to Pentagon cuts, but orders for jet engines are expected to pick up in a few years with an increase in joint strike fighter production.

Top-paid manufacturing jobs _ at Pratt & Whitney or anywhere else _ are increasingly scarce as manufacturers squeeze out productivity from fewer workers and find cost-cutting a principal source of higher profit.

As recently as Thursday, the machinists said Pratt & Whitney was trying to eliminate 190 jobs and significantly increase health care costs. The union said the company had a long way to go if it wanted union negotiators to recommend ratification to the members.

Pratt & Whitney lost a legal battle in 2010 to shut down engine repair shops in East Hartford and Cheshire to cut labor costs and move jobs closer to customers. It eventually won at the bargaining table what it lost in federal court: closing the two plants and shifting hundreds of jobs to Columbus, Ga., Singapore, and Japan. The union won concessions over severance pay for workers forced out.

Pratt & Whitney employs about 32,000 workers worldwide, with about 15,000 in the United States. It has about 9,000 employees in Connecticut, the company said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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