Unions blast Boeing for paring jobs since 2013 tax break extension

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Monday, November 9, 2015 5:05pm
  • Local News

Two years ago state lawmakers rushed into special session to extend a suite of incentives to the aerospace industry worth billions of dollars in tax savings to the Boeing Co.

And that move helped convince the aerospace giant to build its new 777 passenger jet in Everett.

Yet since then Boeing has shed 3,669 jobs in Washington, union leaders and an Everett lawmaker said Monday.

They vowed to press Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers to take steps to rescind some of Boeing’s tax savings if it keeps laying off workers or moving jobs to other states.

“To put it in context, the kinds of job losses we’re talking about would be like four of the five largest aerospace suppliers in Snohomish County shutting down over a 24-month period,” said Larry Brown, political director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751.

“If that had happened, we would be seeing (Everett) Mayor Ray Stephenson and other local elected officials down in Olympia demanding action to address this aerospace jobs crisis,” he said. “Well we’re not waiting for them. We’re calling on the Legislature to act and act now.”

Machinists and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace want to revive debate on a bill authored by Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett. The bill would require Boeing maintain a minimum number of jobs to keep its tax break worth an estimated $8.7 billion through 2040.

If the total dips below a prescribed bar, some of the tax break goes away.

“Boeing has not increased the number of jobs in Washington since November 2013,” Robinson said in a statement. “They haven’t even maintained the same number of jobs. What’s even more disturbing than the lack of commitment Boeing is making to Washington, its state of origin, is the commitments Boeing is making to other places.”

A Boeing Co. spokesman said in an email that since the incentives were first approved in 2003, the company has added 30,000 jobs in the state. Those incentives, originally set to expire in 2024, were extended to 2040 in the 2013 special session.

“Boeing has chosen to grow in Washington state to a greater degree than any other place in the world,” spokesman Doug Alder wrote in an email. “Boeing is proud to keep our commitment to build the 777X exclusively in the state, a program that will employ 10 percent more people than the current 777 line.

“We have already invested more than $1 billion in the 777X Composite Wing Center in Everett on the strength of the aerospace incentives agreement. We hope and expect the state will be equally diligent in honoring their part of the deal,” he wrote.

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