Boeing Eyes Washington Exit, Other States Drool

Big prize up for grabs after machinists turn down deal

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 15, 2013 3:36 AM CST

(Newser) – Boeing's long history in Washington state is at a turning point and other states—including California, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama—are gleefully eyeing the prospect of thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of well-paid jobs building the company's upcoming 777X aircraft, the AP reports. A machinists union rejected a deal this week that would have kept production in the Seattle area and the company, which shifted its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago in 2001, says it is now looking for new locations to build the plane, though it hasn't completely ruled out reaching a deal with the Washington workers.

Lawmakers and business groups in Southern California—where the number of aerospace jobs has dived 70% since 1990—are among those eagerly trying to woo Boeing, though experts believe the firm may opt for South Carolina, where its first non-union final-assembly plant makes 787s, reports the Los Angeles Times. In Washington, meanwhile, union leaders are standing firm after members voted to reject a deal that would have ended traditional pension plans and increased health care costs. "We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal," says the president of International Association of Machinists District 751. "We've held on to our pensions and that's big. At a time when financial planners are talking about a 'retirement crisis' in America, we have preserved a tool that will help our members retire with more comfort and dignity."

Boeing machinists march to cast their vote at the International Association of Machinists union hall in Everett, Washington.
Boeing machinists march to cast their vote at the International Association of Machinists union hall in Everett, Washington.   (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)
Boeing machinists march to cast their vote at the International Association of Machinists union hall in Everett, Washington.
Boeing machinists march to cast their vote at the International Association of Machinists union hall in Everett, Washington.   (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)
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This is arguably the most significant prize in commercial aviation history. - Alex Pietsch, director of Washington state's Office of Aerospace

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