HARTFORD, CT – Governor Lamont has ordered the closing of tens of thousands of businesses around the state, effective Monday, March 23, 2020, as part of the response to the coronavirus crisis. Exempt from the order are Connecticut’s military manufacturers.
The Green Party of Connecticut calls on Governor Lamont to immediately order the closing of the more than one thousand military contractors and subcontractors in the state. While politicians say that keeping military contractors in operation is needed for “national security,” the real defense of our communities from a global pandemic demands these plants be closed.
Military contractors play a major role in Connecticut’s economy, employing more than one hundred thousand civilian employees. That include workers at Electric Boat in Groton, Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, and more than one thousand smaller businesses. Yet even as Connecticut sends home tens of thousands of employees and direct the closing of schools and businesses, military contractors are pursuing business as usual. Every day tens of thousands of their employees, from Connecticut but also New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, are congregating on shop floors and docks and in warehouses and offices. They interact with each other and with tens of thousands of gas station operators, restaurant workers, store clerks, and others, before returning home to their families. From a public health standpoint, permitting these operations to continue is a disaster, putting all Connecticut residents at risk.
Addressing a global pandemic requires that we stop doing business as usual.
Lockheed Martin – the parent company of Sikorsky Aircraft – already knows this. It has closed production facilities working on the F-35 fighter aircraft in Italy and Japan. Yet its employees here in Connecticut are expected to put themselves and their families and communities at risk. The Day newspaper in New London has reported receiving numerous complaints from Electric Boat employees about the company’s refusal to suspend operations.
For more than thirty years, the Green Party of Connecticut has argued that building more weapons of mass destruction does not promote peace. We have called for the shift of Pentagon funds to convert military plants to civilian production, and we have demanded that the employees at these plants be retrained while receiving full pay and benefits. We reject the irrational belief that submarines and aircraft armed with nuclear weapons can ever benefit humankind.
We do not expect the Democrats and Republicans in office to suddenly agree with the Green Party’s pro-peace platform. Both major parties have long supported the US. war economy, and Connecticut politicians will promote that war economy so long as the victims are in remote places with unfamiliar names. But we do expect and demand that the politicians recognize the danger of business practices that expose tens of thousands of residents of Connecticut to a ravaging virus for which there is presently no known vaccine or cure.
Governor Lamont must demand that Electric Boat, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, and their subsidiaries and subcontractors close up shop and send their employees home with full pay and benefits for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. To the extent that these facilities can be immediately converted for useful, civilian purposes, such as the production of hospital ships, prefabricated medical facilities, or medical equipment, the Pentagon should allocate the funds from its massive budget to make that transition possible. The protection of our families and communities from the global coronavirus pandemic should be the state’s first concern and the nation’s first line of defense.