The Politics Blog

Machinist president criticizes Boeing Co. offer

OlympianNovember 7, 2013 

This post has been updated, including Boeing Co.'s statement.

On a day Gov. Jay Inslee testified in favor of a tax-incentives bill aimed at keeping Boeing Co.'s next-generation 777X jet manufacturing in Washington, the Machinists union may have thrown state lawmakers a late-breaking curve.

The Seattle Times reported late Thursday evening that Machinists District 751 president Tom Wroblewski tore up a copy of a Boeing contract offer after a raucus union meeting to discuss the contract,  and Wroblewski wants to withdraw it from a ratification vote that is to take place Wednesday. According to the Times:

“I know this is a piece of crap,” Wroblewski said about the proposed new eight-year agreement that Boeing says will determine whether the forthcoming 777X jet is built in Everett. “I will go to see if this can be withdrawn and not even put to a vote,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what impact this has on the Legislature's plan to start voting Friday in committee on an aerospace tax-incentives package worth $8.7 billion to Boeing and allied its businesses over 16 years. The Times quoted Boeing as saying it needed "full acceptance by the union and Legislature" or it would open up its work to competitive offers outside the state.

Boeing's full statement is here:

All of our options are still on the table, including those within Boeing and other interest we have received from outside. We chose to engage in Puget Sound first, but without full acceptance by the union and legislature, we will be left with no choice but to open up the process competitively and pursue other options for locating 777X work. If this is not ratified per the scheduled union vote on November 13th, we will begin taking the next steps.

Earlier in the day, a long parade of political, business and even labor leaders testified the tax package is essential to maintaining the role of aerospace as a leading producer of jobs.

In a nutshell House Bill 2089 extends the favorable tax breaks granted to Boeing in 2003 for an additional 16 years - until 2040 - in exchange for the company's pledge to keep its final assembly work on the new 777X in Washington and to open a carbon-fiber wing assembly plant here. 

I wrote a story for Friday print editions about the mostly favorable reception this tax package received during a House Finance Committee hearing.

Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle has scheduled an 8 a.m. committee vote.  No word yet from lawmakers or the Governor's Office on whether the contract issue will alter the course of legislation, which had been on a fast track to passage Saturday in the House and Senate.

Language in the Machinists contract offer appeared to bind Boeing's 777X plans to the Northwest - even without the Legislature tethering the company with a tax-breaks deal. If the contract falls apart, pressure may build on lawmakers to show Boeing that the region is a good place to do business.

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