Machinists union leaders have struck back at the Boeing Co.’s decision to pick South Carolina over Everett for a second 787 line.
“No matter what Boeing says or implies, the truth is this: We did offer Boeing a 10-year contract, and even offered to go longer than that. And when we did, they seemed stunned, and stopped talking,” said Tom Wroblewski, Machinists’ president, in a statement.
Boeing’s CEO Jim McNerney emphasized last week the company’s need for long-term labor stability with its unionized workforce in the Puget Sound.
Company spokesman Tim Healy said today that Boeing based its decision to select Charleston over Everett on two major factors: labor stability and competitiveness. He noted that the labor factor played a larger role in Boeing’s decision than the competitiveness.
Several Washington state leaders say they did all they can to offer Boeing incentives to place the second line here.
“This is obviously a very disappointing day for all Washingtonians,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “We did all we could to demonstrate that Washington is the best place in America to build airplanes.”
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., also thought the state had made its best effort to be competitive.
“It is now clear, if it wasn’t before, that there weren’t enough training facilities we could build, or a large enough B&O tax break we could give, to keep Boeing from moving their second line to South Carolina. The labor-management divide was just too wide to bridge,” Larsen said.
But the Machinists say the labor divide was not the problem.
“When our team asked Boeing if 10 years was going to be enough for them, they didn’t respond,” Machinists’ Wroblewski said. “And when I asked them to confirm that the extended contract would secure the second 787 line for Washington state, their reply was only: ‘Well, it would be helpful.’ But they would not commit to anything.”