Amid the government shutdown, Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. canceled plans Oct. 6 to furlough about 4,000 employees unless the government reopened.
The defense manufacturer – and largest employer in the state – canceled those plans after Pentagon officials announced they would put most of the Defense Department’s 350,000 civilian employees back to work despite the ongoing shutdown.
UTC officials announced Oct. 2 plans to furlough about 2,000 employees at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. on Oct. 7 unless the government reopened. The Stratford-based helicopter manufacturer relies on government inspectors during its operational processes.
Announcing potential furloughs, Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said the company would be able to manage a shutdown for a short time, but could not sustain production for an extended period without “an adverse impact.”
“The government shutdown has severely impacted and in some areas completely stopped Sikorsky’s ability to manufacture and support helicopters used by all branches of the United States military,” Jackson said in a statement. “As a result of the government shutdown, we have no choice but to furlough approximately 2,000 employees across the enterprise.”
“Defense Contract Management Agency personnel are a critical and a required part of our U.S. Government aircraft and parts inspection, acceptance, and delivery processes,” he said. The company has already laid off some 200 employees this year due to general military budget cuts and the effects of sequestration.
If the Department of Defense’s civilian employees had not returned to work by the end of the week, UTC had also said it planned to furlough up to 2,000 additional employees at East Hartford-based Pratt and Whitney and units across UTC Aerospace Systems.
Pratt & Whitney officials released a statement Oct. 7 announcing they were “delighted” to have their Defense Contract Management Agency partners return to work “and back supporting our military operations.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reportedly recalled the furloughs to support the readiness of the military. About 450,000 Defense Department civilian employees nationwide were left on furlough as of press time. Congressional members have approved steps to reimburse employees their full pay for any time they were not at work.
“We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible,” Hagel said in a statement. “Ultimately, the surest way to end these damaging and irresponsible furloughs, and to enable us to fulfill our mission as a department, is for Congress to pass a budget and restore funds for the entire federal government.”
Updated: A shorter version of this article appeared online Oct. 10 under the title “UTC, Sikorsky cancel furlough plan.”
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