RTX: Strikers’ Unemployment Bill Has ‘Serious Implications’

Issues & Policies

The following letter was sent May 6 by RTX Corporation to members of the Connecticut Senate. It is posted here with permission.

RTX Corporation has serious concerns regarding HB 5431, An Act Establishing the Stabilization
Support and ARPA Replacement Fund, that would provide workers with state-funded compensation
while on strike.

RTX was created in April 2020 through the merger of Raytheon Corporation and United Technologies
Corporation. RTX is the largest aerospace and defense company in the world with more than 185,000 global employees.

Throughout our three businesses—Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, and Raytheon—we are advancing aviation, engineering integrated defense systems for operational success, and developing next-generation technology solutions and manufacturing to help global customers address their most critical challenges.

RTX employs over 16,500 workers in the state, making Connecticut the company’s largest state by
employee population.

Connecticut is home to the headquarters of Pratt & Whitney, with operations in East Hartford and Middletown. Collins Aerospace operates major facilities in Windsor Locks and Cheshire. RTX also has a world-class Technology Research Center in East Hartford and significant corporate operations in Farmington.

We spend over $2 billion annually on hundreds of Connecticut-based suppliers, and our businesses have been in the state for nearly 100 years.

RTX employs over 4,300 union-represented employees at its Pratt and Whitney and Collins Aerospace Connecticut operations. Virtually all RTX Connecticut hourly employees are covered by one of seven collective bargaining agreements with three different unions.

These contracts provide median base pay well-above state and national averages, and competitive medical, disability, paid time off, and retirement benefits. Ours are some of the highest paid aerospace manufacturing workers in the U.S.

These negotiations have always been conducted under the federal framework created by the National Labor Relations Act, which carefully balances the respective interests and leverages of workers acting collectively and employers, driving compromise while minimizing risk to economic activity.

One of those sources of leverage is the right to strike. Employees collectively leverage the right to withhold their labor to secure better agreements.

Their collective leverage, however, is not unlimited: It is balanced by the personal economic loss of a strike. Strikes, therefore, are relatively rare.

At RTX, there have been only two Connecticut strikes in the last 25 years, totaling five weeks.

Indeed, just yesterday 1,000 Collins Aerospace Windsor Locks employees ratified a new, three-year
contract after a month of negotiations with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, yet another in a series of strong contracts that recognize and reward our employees for their critical skills and contributions while allowing us to remain competitive in Connecticut manufacturing a highly technical product.

Unfortunately, such contracts would be harder to secure under this pending legislation.

Striking employees may already be eligible for union strike fund payments. Paying employees who chose not to work during a strike additional state-funded compensation would significantly skew the careful balance intended under the National Labor Relations Act.

Employees would be incentivized to hold out for “more,” even if “more” would render the business uncompetitive, jeopardizing both the company and employees’ long-term interests.

To be clear, unions don’t force employees to strike. Workers choose to strike. A strike authorization vote is taken to give union negotiators the approval to call a strike if negotiations are unsuccessful.

Most RTX union-represented employees in Connecticut only strike after a majority of employees reject the company’s final contract offer, and then a two-thirds supermajority vote to walk off the job.

“The legislation would further erode Connecticut’s business climate, rendering other states more viable options for future work.”

In our experience, union leaders tend to be very clear about the implications of a strike and the seriousness of the strike vote. Employees know full-well what they’re doing when they decide to withhold their labor in an effort to secure a better contract.

Paying people to strike would serve only to increase the frequency and duration of work stoppages in Connecticut.

Such a significant skewing of the negotiating parties’ leverages could yield unsustainable labor contracts for Connecticut manufacturers.

The proposed legislation would further erode Connecticut’s business climate, rendering other states more viable options for future work.

It is no wonder, therefore, that only two states—New York and New Jersey—allow economic strikers to receive unemployment benefits, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently vetoed similar legislation.

RTX strongly opposes HB 5431. Connecticut leaders should consider the serious implications of this legislation if enacted.

HB 5431, which incorporated the intent of HB 5164, passed the House May 3 is currently awaiting action in the state Senate. For more information, contact CBIA’s Ashley Zane (860.244.1169) | @AshleyZane9.


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