Boeing workers paying the price for terrorism

Boeing’s layoff announcement adds to the shock felt here in the wake of the murderous attacks on America and the world last week. But, like America, this region can pull together in a difficult situation.

Although there must have been a very human temptation for Boeing leaders to delay disclosing the painfully bad news, there’s great value in the speed of Boeing’s announcement. It gives everyone time to try to limit the projected cuts (of 20 to 30 percent of the workforce), help the affected workers and begin planning for the company’s recovery.

Boeing’s workers and management should know that they have the wholehearted best wishes and concern of the entire community. It’s sad that a great workforce and company are paying a price for the evil committed by others.

But there’s no time for fear or panic. The community support must be translated into action. There are some obvious measures to take. Congress must pass a generous measure rescuing our nation’s airlines. The federal and state governments must move quickly to assure that unemployment and workforce re-training packages are as solid as possible. The nation should act with emergency speed on anti-terrorism steps that protect cockpits and airline passengers alike. Before being frightened away from air travel, members of the public should ask themselves at least a few questions about giving terrorists unnecessary victories.

Locally, individuals and organizations will want to devote their charitable efforts to assuring that laid-off workers and their families are well fed, sheltered and supported. As County Executive Bob Drewel points out, the community that has benefited from the support of Boeing and its workers for every local charitable effort must mobilize itself for them now. And we will all want to watch out for others whose livelihoods may be affected.

For the county, other local governments and community colleges, Drewel notes, it is imperative to coordinate efforts and assure that every available dollar for training and service is well spent. And then there will be the need to manage limited tax resources better than ever in tough times.

While Boeing’s cuts will certainly spread to some other businesses, the county’s employment base is more diversified than in any previous air-industry downturn. Just in Everett, there’s the Navy base and a series of ongoing or upcoming projects, including the construction of a new public arena. Across the county, employers who are sheltered from the ripple effects will surely want to look to laid-off workers with long-time histories in the community as candidates for any job openings.

In the medium to long run, if not sooner, air travel is a good bet to bounce back, perhaps with a vengeance. Decent people on all parts of the planet value an increasingly interconnected world that gives them more choices about where they work, travel and live. For now, this is a crisis for Boeing and its workers. They deserve every bit of support that can be mustered by their neighbors and friends near and far.

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