Boeing on upswing provides Obama with a backdrop for jobs message

EVERETT — When President Barack Obama arrives Friday at the Boeing Co.’s factory here, he’ll see a manufacturer on the upswing, with jet orders galore and new employees coming in the door every week.

It’s precisely the picture of success the president has been promoting: an American manufacturer hiring workers at home rather than sending jobs abroad.

Obama started a three-day political trip, which includes eight fundraisers, Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wis., where he toured Master Lock, a manufacturer that has brought jobs back to the U.S. from China.

“Manufacturing is coming back,” Obama said. “The economy is getting stronger.”

Here in the Puget Sound region, Boeing is booming, having added 8,361 jobs in Washington last year. Those jobs are in support of the company’s plan to increase aircraft production at the company’s widebody jet site in Everett and the single-aisle 737 assembly facility in Renton.

In Everett, where the president will tour the 787 line and deliver a speech Friday morning, the lessons of outsourcing are well-known. Dozens of 787s sit around Paine Field, waiting to be reworked and brought up to specifications for delivery, the result, in part, of complications with Boeing’s global supply chain. Those troubles led to more than three years of delay in the Dreamliner program and cost Boeing billions of dollars.

Boeing’s chief executive, Jim McNerney, acknowledged the company’s over-extension at a recent event organized by General Electric.

“We, lemminglike, over the last 15 years extended our supply chains a little too far globally in the name of low cost,” McNerney said, as reported by Reuters. “We lost control in some cases over quality and service when we did that, we underestimated in some cases the value of our workers back here.”

Here in the Puget Sound region, skilled Machinists union members working on the troubled 787 Dreamliner line and the revamped 747-8 program “have been bailing Boeing out,” noted Scott Hamilton, an analyst with Issaquah-based Leeham Co.

“There are several high-profile companies that have decided recently that they like American workers after all,” Hamilton said.

The skill level of workers here offsets the higher cost of doing business, he said.

Obama has called for tax cuts to further offset the cost of keeping manufacturing jobs at home, calling for higher taxes for companies that move overseas. However, in Wisconsin on Wednesday, Obama acknowledged that many factories have closed, their jobs have gone overseas and a lot of them “are not going to come back.”

“In a global economy, some companies will always find it more profitable to pick up and do business in some other part of the world. That’s just a fact,” Obama said. “But that doesn’t mean we have to sit by and settle for a lesser future.”

Another highlight of the president’s address here likely will be the landmark agreement struck in late-2010 by Boeing and the Machinists. The company agreed to build the re-engined 737 MAX in Renton as part of a four-year contract with the union. In exchange for that promise, the Machinists asked that a labor complaint be dropped over Boeing’s decision to put a second 787 line in South Carolina rather than Everett.

Gov. Chris Gregoire noted the labor agreement, as well as Boeing’s large backlog of jet orders, in remarks Wednesday about the president’s upcoming visit.

“Boeing and aerospace are the backbone of manufacturing in this state and the backbone of the struggling middle class, and the president knows that,” she said. “The success that Boeing and Machinists had in reaching a labor agreement early and ensuring even more production here in Washington state are helping our state come back and ultimately will help the country do the same.”

Herald writers Rikki King and Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.

What to expect on Friday

Expect delays and some road and facility closures Friday during President Barack Obama’s visit to Boeing’s Everett factory.

The president’s speech at Boeing is closed to the public, but the event will be broadcast by local TV channels.

Even catching sight of Air Force One may prove difficult.

No one will be allowed to congregate on public roadways or highways, Snohomish County sheriff’s bureau chief Kevin Prentiss said. All private property, including Boeing, will be off-limits.

As long as Air Force One is on Boeing property or airport property, all nearby public areas will be closely monitored, Prentiss said.

If people plan to travel near Paine Field on Friday, they should expect road closures and delays, said trooper Keith Leary of the Washington State Patrol. Drivers might want to plan alternate routes.

Leary and other local police and fire officials declined comment about their involvement in Friday’s events. Many said their efforts were still in the planning stages.

At the airport, the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour and its parking lot, including a viewing area, will be closed. Normal operations resume Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration also will impose restrictions on airplanes and other activity at Paine Field, which will be “frozen” from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. No aircraft will be allowed to move anywhere at the airport — this includes taxiing or repositioning airplanes. Hangar doors must be closed, with no vehicles in front.

And no one is allowed to be on rooftops during the times specified.

Talk to us

More in Local News

911 received multiple calls reporting a fire at Marie Anne Terrace apartments early Monday morning, Feb. 6, 2023 in Everett, Washington. There were no injuries or fatalities. (Everett Fire Department)
Fire damages Everett apartments, displaces 10

The fire at the Marie Anne Terrace apartments Monday night displaced four families and caused extensive property damage.

A rack with cards bettors can use to choose their own numbers to purchase lottery ticket on a counter at a market. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Been to Auburn lately? That’s where $754M Powerball ticket was sold

This is only the second time a Powerball jackpot has been won in Washington.

Granite Falls
Man shot near Granite Falls; assailants at large

Two suspects fled after shooting a 33-year-old man in a motorhome Tuesday morning, according to police.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Snohomish home-invasion suspect had been released weeks earlier

Eleazar Cabrera, 33, is accused of breaking into a home and shooting a man three times. He has a lengthy rap sheet.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A holiday for Lunar New Year, a return of green and white license plates

It’s Day 29. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Most Read