The federal government shutdown has forced Sikorsky Aircraft to take the drastic action of furloughing about 2,000 of its workers as of Monday.
In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, the company said the inability of Congress and the White House to reach a federal budget agreement and end the government shutdown has severely impacted or stopped its ability to manufacture and support helicopters used by all branches of the United States military.
“As a result of the government shutdown, we have no choice but to furlough approximately 2,000 employees across the enterprise effective Monday, if a budget agreement is not reached and the government shutdown ended before then,” Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said in a statement.
If the shutdown continues through next week, the company, which has about 8,500 employees in Connecticut, said it will have to furlough an additional 1,000 employees.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes the Sikorsky plant, blasted Republicans in Congress for the action that Sikorsky, a unit of Hartford-based United Technologies, was forced to take.
“The disastrous implications of the reckless Republican shutdown are quickly being felt in Connecticut,” she said in an email. “Unless the Republicans end this self-inflicted crisis soon, nearly half of Sikorsky’s hourly workforce will be furloughed with more to come, causing great harm to them and their families. The political games must end to keep these hardworking men and women on the job, prevent further pain for working families and end the damage it is inflicting on our economy.”
Besides the Stratford operation, the furlough will impact facilities in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Troy, Ala.
“As we stated earlier this week, we could manage the impact of a shutdown for a short time, but would not be able to sustain production for any extended period without an adverse impact,” he said.
The production and delivery of Sikorsky helicopters for the Department of Defense, including the workhorse Black Hawk, cannot proceed without the help of Defense Contract Management Agency staff who have been furloughed due to the government shutdown, according to the company.
“DCMA personnel are a critical and required part of our U.S. government aircraft and parts inspection, acceptance, and delivery processes,” Jackson said.
The shutdown is affecting other UTC operations, as well.
If the shutdown continues through next week, UTC’s Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems units would also be affected, and company-wide furloughs are expected to double to include 4,000 workers, UTC reported.
This number could exceed 5,000 employees if the government shutdown continues into next month, it said in prepared comments.