The Fate of Boeing and Washington State
- Nov 14, 2013 | Gail Cole
Boeing machinists left no room for doubt. On Wednesday evening they solidly rejected Boeing’s offer for an eight-year labor contract extension. As a result, Boeing’s new 777X jet may not be built in Washington State.
Prior to the union’s vote, representatives from the company said production of the 777X would move out of state unless an agreement could be reached with the union. “Without the terms of the contract extension, we’re left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner. Those options include moving operations out of the Pacific Northwest. The two most favored locations to build the 777X are Long Beach, California, and Huntsville, Alabama, both of which have a skilled aerospace workforce and a strong Boeing presence already. Locations in Utah and South Carolina have also been proposed.
Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney “declined to say if the vote was a ‘take it or leave it deal.” There are advantages to remaining in Everett, WA, where the 777 is constructed. Yet, Boeing has been easing out of Washington for years. It moved the company’s headquarters to Chicago in 2001, and its commitment to Washington extended only to building the 777X.
In an effort to keep aerospace in Washington, state lawmakers voted in favor of handsome tax incentives during a special session last week. Governor Jay Inslee (D) has said that the $8.7 billion tax package is not the state’s only card. He said of the machinist vote, “This does not diminish the strength we do bring to the table. Tremendous workforce, tremendous incentive package, good permitting, a way to move forward on transportation. We bring those strengths to the table and we’ve got to continue to maximize those.”
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