South Carolina officials and Boeing Co. executives will celebrate the completion of Boeing’s first new airliner assembly plant outside the Puget Sound area Friday.
Ceremonies at the North Charleston site of the company’s new 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant are scheduled for 10 a.m. there. The plant will be the only site outside Western Washington where Boeing builds airliners. The company has final assembly plants in Renton and Everett now. Boeing already makes large sections of the plane’s fuselage in North Charleston in two factories the company bought from its partners in the Dreamliner project. Boeing purchased those factories when the two partner companies, Vought and Alenia, stumbled in their attempts to build the major fuselage sections.
The South Carolina factory is expected to produce three Dreamliners a month once it gets up to speed.
Boeing selected North Charleston as the site for its second assembly line after a nationwide beauty contest among several states including Washington. Boeing executives said at the time that one reason the company picked North Charleston was that a strike among assembly workers would not affect employees there.
Assembly line workers in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, are not union members.
In Washington state, Boeing’s assembly line workers are Machinist Union members. A legal shadow hangs over the South Carolina plant because the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Boeing for allegedly retaliating against workers who struck the company by locating the new plant outside the Puget Sound area.
Sen. Jim DeMint filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday seeking communications that the federal labor agency may have had with union and Obama administration officials tied to Boeing’s attempt to open an aircraft plant in South Carolina.
DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, for the first time questioned whether the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing was a payoff for $1.9 million in political contributions to Democratic candidates in 2009 and 2010 by the union that represents Boeing workers.
James Rosen of McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this report.