"We are all in this together," Scott Carson, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told business and state leaders at luncheon in Seattle.
His remarks came a few days after Boeing Machinists ended a 57-day strike and amid company negotiations with Boeing's engineers union. Carson stressed the company's need to continue working with global partners -- a sore spot for its unions. And he outlined priorities for the state if Washington hopes to keep companies like Boeing. Carson spoke at an event organized by Property Partnership, a coalition of nearly 300 business, government and education organizations.
With the end of election season, Carson is hopeful all sides can "work toward a collective and greater good" despite tough economic times. To do so, Carson believes people need to embrace reality rather than live in the past. For Boeing workers, that means acceptance of the company's global business model.
"Operating globally means jobs at home," Carson said.
Boeing's partnerships with global suppliers give the company access to different markets and resources and reduces risks for the jet maker. The strategy has meant greater stability in Boeing's backlog, which consists of about 10 percent of domestic carrier orders. Carson pointed to the company's relationship with Japanese suppliers as reason that Boeing holds about 85 percent of the commercial jet market share in that country.
The Chicago-based aerospace company increased its use of global suppliers on its new 787 Dreamliner, drawing anger from both its Machinists and its engineers union. One sticking point in the Machinists' strike came over job guarantees. About 27,000 union members shut down jet production at Boeing's factories around the region.
"I'm delighted that they're back at work," Carson said.
Work stoppages like the Machinists' erode customer confidence. Strikes also are hard on employees and the community, Carson said. Ultimately, the "big winner" of any strike is the competition, he said.
While European Airbus is Boeing's main rival, Carson sees rising competition in Japan, Canada, Russia, China and Brazil. To keep up, Boeing needs to keep cutting costs, Carson said. And that's where Washington state comes into play.
State leaders have made progress in making the state a more attractive place to do business, but there's still "significant room to improve," he said.
Carson laid out a few objectives that Boeing views as positive steps toward an improved business climate.
Boeing wants to see the state reform its workers compensation and unemployment programs to lessen the burden on business. The aerospace giant discourages any other business tax increases. The company also is pushing for the timely completion of transportation projects. Lastly, Carson said, the state needs to target programs in education that contribute to economic growth.
"We want and need Washington state ... to be increasingly competitive over the long haul," Carson said.