Pratt & Whitney announces layoffs, local city leaders brace for economic impact

Connecticut

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Raytheon confirms there will be job cuts at Pratt & Whitney headquarters in East Hartford. The parent company first announced layoffs Wednesday during an analyst’s conference. 15,000 jobs within Raytheon are on the chopping block, double what the company had previously announced in July.

News of the layoffs appear to have blindsided local leaders who are now bracing for the impact of potential ripple effects through their community economies.

Town officials spent Thursday assessing the damage.

In Middletown, Mayor Ben Florsheim (D) says a meeting with Pratt & Whitney representatives left him confident workers in his city will be safe from any potential cuts.

That will come as a relief to businesses like Fiore Restaurant on Main Street, where manager Selma Cecunjanin says it is her regulars, many of whom work at the company, who have helped the fine-dining establishment survive the throes of the pandemic.

“I have one customer that comes often. She’s not sure about her job. So nobody really knows what’s going to happen,” said Cecunjanin.

“We can only ask so much of the people who are trying to live ordinary, middle-class lives in our communities,” said Mayor Florsheim.

Raytheon blames the cuts on a downturn in the commercial airline industry, with fewer people taking to the skies due to COVID-19. The defense side of the company, which runs largely on government contracts, is spared.

The mayor says he’d like to see the federal government help support the civilian side, too. And he’s asking Raytheon to look into why the previous bailout of the airline industry didn’t stop these new cuts.

“The fact that it’s one of the largest companies in the world after going through the merger between Raytheon and UTC. We have to look at executive pay and we have to be looking at these government contracts that are the lifeblood of these companies,” said Florsheim.

The mayor met with Pratt and Whitney representatives Thursday, who he says acknowledge the layoffs announcement appears to have caught area leaders by surprise.

“We need to be doing more to support workers who are in industries who are affected by this pandemic,” said Mayor Florsheim.

Governor Ned Lamont also weighed in, saying, “I think it’s going to be a small piece of what you saw in that number and mainly related to white-collar workers.”

Meanwhile, communities are bracing for whatever comes next.

“We would lose business, they would lose their jobs, it’s just tough for everybody,” said Cecunjanin. 

East Hartford’s Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc added, “It’s very unsettling, not only for East Hartford as a community but for all the people throughout the state of Connecticut who work there. However, at this time, it’s very premature to identify what impact this will have on the town.”

Raytheon has said it does not expect the commercial airline industry to recover from this economic downturn until at least 2023.

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