By Gina Parry
Reading about Gov. Jay Inslee’s lovefest with Boeing on May 10 left me feeling a little sick, but not surprised. (Article, “Inslee’s aerospace plan: Land the 777X.”) Our politicians seem to have forgotten that they are elected to serve the interests of the citizens of this state; not the bottom line of corporations. I read the statements about what our state is promising to contribute to this “partnership,” and it was easy to read between the lines:
•Funding transportation and port improvements. Realspeak: Yes, Boeing, we realize that you like to contract out your manufacturing to countries which allow you to exploit the workforce and the environment, and we will help you do that by building you ports, at taxpayer expense, in order to facilitate bringing those parts home.
Working with local government to ensure streamlined permitting. Realspeak: Go ahead, Boeing, and spew whatever poison you want to into our Puget Sound. We will stifle dissent from those environmentally-minded citizens who would like to eat seafood more than once a month.
Fostering better relationships between labor and management. Realspeak: We will back you up when the uppity unions try to fend off takeaways and have the audacity to expect that the profits actually be shared with those who created them: the workers.
Don’t get me wrong. I worked for Boeing for a number of years before changing careers, and I have many family members who were lifelong employees there, when Boeing was still a good company. Those invited to design the future of the company were the innovators; the risk-takers; the engineers. But something happened in the 1990s. Perhaps it was the takeover by McDonnell Douglas, which was disguised as a merger. At any rate, the bean-counters assumed control; the executives, instead of coming up through the ranks, began to be bought from other companies for exorbitantly high salaries; partnership with the community, which had been part of company culture from the beginning, was abandoned; the bottom line became the driving force; and the soul of the company was lost.
Now they make demands; we try to meet them, and they slap us by moving headquarters to Chicago, and assembly lines to right-to-work states. We are threatened repeatedly by this bully, which waves jobs over our heads in order to get concessions and special tax privileges. This is extortion, and I am sure that I am not the only citizen of this state who is sick and tired of it. It is time for our politicians to realize that Boeing will never give anywhere near what it takes, and quit trying to accommodate them. I believe that there is life after Boeing — if they leave, we will replace them with companies who will not abuse us. The Boeing we grew up with — which made Seattle the “Jet City” — left a long time ago anyway.
Our state is failing to properly fund education, and cutting other services that benefit all of us. Can we really afford to keep subsidizing a wealthy corporation?
Gina Parry lives in Snohomish.