Malloy says middle class is under attack, sees manufacturing, training as defense

Groton - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spoke about his administration's efforts to promote growth in the state's manufacturing sector Saturday afternoon at the Groton Inn and Suites as part of the New England State Council of Machinists annual conference.

The governor told the crowd of about 60 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, "Two things are going on. Number one, unions built the middle class in America … Number two, the middle class is under attack."

He said that his administration has supported manufacturing by increasing the availability of manufacturing training at community colleges, allowing more workers - such as paraprofessionals in schools - to organize, and raising the minimum wage, which is set to increase to $10.10 by January 2017.

Everett Corey, directing business representative for the council in Connecticut and Rhode Island, said Malloy was "right on target," especially about expanding manufacturing education.

"If the employers don't have access to quality employees, work goes elsewhere," he said.

Council of Machinists President John Harrity said before the speech that the administration's recent offer of $400 million in tax breaks to United Technologies Corp. would play a pivotal role in what Harrity called the "slow but steady" recovery of the manufacturing sector.

The deal still needs legislative approval, according to the Hartford Courant, and was offered in exchange for a new headquarters for Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, among other things.

"I think that Gov. Malloy has been from day one a strong advocate for manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the state," Harrity said.

Malloy announced in January that he would ask the state legislature to approve creation of a $25 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund to assist manufacturers in 42 municipalities, including some in eastern Connecticut towns, in meeting demand and creating jobs.

t.townsend@theday.com

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