Legislature, industry, labor seek homestyle recipe for 777X

Twelve Democratic and Republican state lawmakers will gather Friday morning in Seattle to continue formulating a strategy for convincing the Boeing Co. to assemble the 777X in Washington.

This will be their second sit down in two weeks and will take place behind closed doors in an unannounced location. (I hear if you hang out near the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce building around 9:30 a.m. you might catch sight of them.)

And if it’s like the inaugural meeting in Everett last week, materials handed out will be collected before anyone leaves the room. This dozen, along with representatives of the Machinists union, aerospace engineers, Washington State Labor Council and Aerospace Futures Alliance, are trying to craft a secret sauce to sway company executives and don’t want its ingredients known prematurely.

They are under some pressure. Gov. Jay Inslee, who cooked up the idea of the task force, wants something tangible before the international air show in Dubai opens Nov. 17. That’s when Boeing is expected to formally launch the 777X program and maybe hint where it will build the next generation of its popular jetliner.

There’s good precedent for such an exercise.

A decade ago, a select group of lawmakers drew up significant changes in Washington laws covering taxes, workers’ compensation and unemployment then got them approved by their colleagues. The result: Boeing chose Everett for its 7E7 — now 787 — program.

This time around is different in two major respects.

Then, Boeing laid out pretty clearly what it wanted and conducted a formal process to solicit proposals from communities and states. This time around, the company isn’t saying anything about its desires for the 777X.

“The whole genesis is different,” said Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, who chaired the 2003 task force and is on this new panel. “We really don’t know what we’re responding to.”

The political climate is different, too.

Then, the governor was Gary Locke, a moderate Democrat. Faced with a Republican-run Senate, he found common ground with moderates in the GOP and his own party in order to push through sweeping policy reforms which helped land the groundbreaking Boeing program.

Now, the governor is Inslee, a progressive Democrat. He, too, faces a Senate controlled by Republicans. And, like in 2003, there are divisive issues such as transportation funding, workers’ compensation and fish consumption which may need tending to in a bipartisan fashion to sway Boeing.

Unlike Locke, Inslee’s shown a mostly take-no-Republican-prisoners attitude in his dealings with the Legislature in his first year. For some task force members, it’s tempered their optimism over what will be accomplished in the next few weeks.

For example, Inslee likely will need to press Republicans into endorsing a multi-billion transportation dollar package that Senate GOP leaders have rejected for months. And on workers’ compensation, he will likely need to soften his stance and push House Democrats who blocked reforms of the program earlier this year.

Morris, reciting the achievements of 2003, said it’s too soon to pillory the latest effort.

They’re just starting out and on Friday, members will get a chance to put ideas from their caucuses on the table.

“This is not a place to come and play politics,” he said of the group. “It is a place to come and find solutions.”

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.