Pratt Layoffs Pending Among Engineers and Other Salaried Workers

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My colleague Brian Dowling is writing about downsizing at Pratt. Here’s his story:

The likelihood of layoffs at Pratt & Whitney is high, according to a company email sent Friday to alert salaried workers of a new round of buyouts.

In the email, obtained by The Courant, Pratt & Whitney President David P. Hess said that the buyouts “will most likely be followed by involuntary reductions.”

The cuts are needed, Hess said in the email, because the company is winding down its longtime military engine programs — its F100 and F117 engines — and because sales of spare engine parts are “especially difficult due to global uncertainty.” The email also cites uncertainty related to defense budget cuts.

A Pratt spokesman on Friday confirmed there would be buyouts and said he expected “several hundred” to accept the offer. Neither the spokesman nor the email said how many positions the company needs to cut.

Because big aerospace and defense companies get their business from long-term programs that run for years and then wind down, it is often difficult to coordinate one program’s beginning with a comparable program’s end.

The new business is still a few years off for the East Hartford engine maker, which has two huge programs on the horizon: the military’s Joint Strike Fighter and the handful of commercial applications of its PurePower Geared Turbofan engine.

“Pratt & Whitney has achieved tremendous success in recent years, winning new platforms and sales campaigns across all our markets,” Hess said in the email to employees. “However, because we are a long-cycle business, we will not benefit from these investments for several years, and need to continue our focus on near-term business challenges.”

Hess listed what the company has done in recent years to manage costs: selling businesses, consolidating plants, restricting hiring, decreasing contracted personnel, reducing discretionary spending, and restricting company travel.

He encouraged all eligible salaried employees to consider the “voluntary separation program.” He said more details about the program are forthcoming.

Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., Pratt’s parent company, has said in regulatory filings that it expects to shave 3,000 jobs this year through layoffs, early retirement or normal attrition. It also plans to exit 1.85 million square feet of facilities.

In total, the company expects to cut 7,000 jobs and close to 2.5 million square feet of space in the two-year restructuring plan, which began at the start of 2012 and is expected to conclude by the end of 2013. About 4,000 jobs were cut in 2012.

UTC, at the end of 2012, employed about 218,000 people worldwide at 4,000 locations in 71 countries.

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