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Pratt & Whitney Connecticut Workers Ratify Contract

United Technologies Corp. workers at its Pratt & Whitney unit in Connecticut ratified a three-year contract today, and the company said it would close its Cheshire plant as part of the agreement.

The labor pact covers about 3,400 employees in Middletown, Cheshire and East Hartford, United Technologies said in a statement. There will be layoffs at the Cheshire plant and at the repair operations at East Hartford.

Under the contract, workers will receive a 3 percent wage increase effective immediately, and 2.5 percent increases in December 2011 and 2012, according to the company. The company will also increase its contribution to the workers’ pension and savings plans.

Pratt & Whitney builds, overhauls and repairs jet engines at the plants and said it will assist employees affected by the Cheshire closure. Those employees not placed will be laid off by July 2011. The company also said it will offer buyout packages to as many as 500 workers across its Connecticut operations.

The Connecticut Airfoil Repair Operations, located on the East Hartford campus, has about 115 employees represented by the International Association of Machinists, according to the company. Cheshire has 386 IAM-represented employees.

It’s difficult to predict how many employees will choose to take the special separation program, Bryan Kidder, a spokesman for Pratt & Whitney said in an e-mail today.

James Parent, a spokesman for the IAM, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Unprofitable Plant

United Technologies lawyers said in court in February that the Cheshire plant hadn’t been profitable for several years, primarily because of high labor and overhead costs.

United Technologies, which also makes Sikorsky helicopters, Hamilton Sundstrand aerospace equipment, Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners, is Connecticut’s largest private employer with 26,000 of its more than 200,000 workers stationed in the state.

General Electric Co. is the world’s biggest jet-engine maker, followed by Rolls-Royce Group Plc and Pratt & Whitney. United Technologies’ shares rose 4 cents to close at $78.74 on Dec. 3 in New York trading.

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