The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Dan Catchpole | dcatchpole@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 4:03 p.m.

Will Washington become a right-to-work state to win Boeing's 777X?

Will Washington become a right-to-work state in order to secure design and manufacturing of Boeing's 777X here?

The answer: Not likely.

But one state senator has proposed legislation that would weaken labor unions here should the state workers' compensation insurance rates continue to increase. The move would help position Washington to win work on Boeing's updated 777, said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, in a statement Tuesday.

"It's very clear that Boeing is choosing to expand into states that have more competitive labor environments, and that right-to-work states like South Carolina have a significant potential advantage," said Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

Boeing in 2009 picked South Carolina as the site for a second 787 production line when the jet maker and the local district of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers failed to reach a long term labor accord. The Machinists had struck Boeing in 2008. The National Labor Relations Board later sued Boeing over the 787 decision, alleging the company illegally retaliated against the union.

The Chicago-based Boeing likely will launch the 777X later this year. As the site of 777 manufacturing, Everett is a favorite for 777X work.

However, with the South Carolina move in mind, state lawmakers aren't taking for granted that Boeing will remain in Washington for the newest 777. Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled his own strategy for the 777X. The Democrat's plan didn't include making Washington the 25th right-to-work state in the country.

"Washington is a hub of aerospace, and it's clear that too many of our elected leaders aren't taking real steps to keep it that way," Baumgartner said in a statement Tuesday.

Aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton, with Issaquah-based Leeham Co., also recently pushed for turning Washington into a right-to-work state as part of the state's 777X. Like Baumgartner, Hamilton suggests the cost of doing business in Washington is too high due to workers' comp rates.

Read Baumgartner's bill here.

Story tags » 777787Labor RelationsGovernorLegislature

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