State Treasurer Denise Nappier has given official voice to an idea lately floated by many Pratt & Whitney workers. Perhaps the company could keep some of them employed, she said Wednesday, by reducing pay for top executives of its corporate parent, United Technologies Corp.
"By scaling back executive compensation to a more reasonable level, the company can retain these skilled jobs in Connecticut without negatively impacting the bottom line and shareholder value," the treasurer said in a written statement two days after Pratt said it would lay off 1,000 engine overhaul and repair workers in Cheshire and East Hartford starting early next year.
UTC paid its top five executives a total of almost $70 million in 2008, the treasurer noted in her statement, citing a federal securities filing by the company. The largest paydays were to CEO Louis Chênevert and Chairman George David, the former CEO.
"UTC now claims that it needs $20 million more a year to make Pratt's jet engine repair operations profitable in Connecticut, yet its top five executives made more than 3.5 times that amount last year," she said.
Pratt demanded that its union Machinists offer $53.8 million in recurring annual expense cuts in exchange for keeping the work in the state. The company said Monday that the union fell far short, and that it would close the Cheshire plant and the East Hartford operation and transfer their work to Columbus, Ga., and Asia.
In response to Nappier, UTC said it offers the pay necessary to "attract and retain the highest caliber management for a global enterprise of our size, scope and complexity."
In a statement, the company said: "We believe that UTC executive compensation practices have contributed to our record of outperforming our peers and delivering value to our shareholders, including the beneficiaries of Connecticut's Retirement Pension Funds and the many thousand current and retired UTC employee-shareholders living in Connecticut. UTC's executive compensation strategies also have directly contributed to the company's success, the very success that has enabled it to remain Connecticut's largest private employer."