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Workers celebrate hard-won Boeing victory

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By Gale Fiege
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Ron Neis and other Boeing employees celebrate the awarding of the tanker contract to Boeing at rally on the 767 assembly line Friday morning.

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Ron Neis and other Boeing employees celebrate the awarding of the tanker contract to Boeing at rally on the 767 assembly line Friday morning.

The shift change at Everett's Boeing plant came shortly after the announcement that the Air Force had awarded the company a $30 billion tanker contract. Out in front of the Machinists union hall on Airport Road, Boeing employees honked their car horns, pumped their fists and gave the thumbs-up sign. One man driving by couldn't contain his happiness. "This is a great day for Boeing," he shouted at a newspaper photographer. "I can work till I retire now!" Inside the hall, Dale Flinn, a team leader for the door rigger crew, said he is pleased the Air Force chose Boeing to build 179 aerial refueling tankers to replace planes built in the Eisenhower era. "I feel for the people in Alabama who would have assembled the Airbus plane," Flinn said. "But most of it would have been built in Europe and then the people in Alabama would have just hung the parts. The choice to build it here is healthier for the nation. And at the end of the day, we've got the better airplane." A few miles away at the Everett Mall, the news of the contract was making the rounds. "This is the best news today. That's a lot of money, which should help our state budget, too," said Chris Decker, 22, of Arlington. "The Air Force contract is going to help everybody." Decker's friend Randi Vidal, 23, said she is happy because her mother works for Boeing, and the news should mean job security. At the Verizon Wireless kiosk, manager Daniel Copeland, 28, of Shoreline, expressed hope that the contract would mean people will start spending more. And Kevin Walden, 46, of Everett, said the decision will mean more jobs. "It was the right thing (for the Air Force) to do. It will be good for our economy, but it's also good that we didn't send this job overseas," Walden said. "Made in the USA works for me." Glass artist Gordon Anderson said he is upset that so much industry has moved overseas in the past few decades. "The government made the right choice on this one," said Anderson, of La Conner. "The Everett Mall is full of wandering kids who need jobs. I hope Boeing can hire more people." Christian Niccum, 33, of Woodinville was happy about the outcome of the competition between Boeing and Airbus. Niccum, a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic luge team, joked that since the next Winter Olympic Games are several years away and he is unemployed, he might be looking for a job at Boeing. "Boeing's news is great news for our area," Niccum said. "Life is about competition. In my sport, I am always happy to beat the Europeans. I am glad that today Boeing did, too."

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