In pitch for Boeing 777X work, state’s delegation stresses role as strong allies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington’s full congressional delegation pleaded with The Boeing Co. on Tuesday to keep its next-generation jetliner in the state as rival states made their own pitches to lure the 777X in a contest worth billions of dollars.

In an open letter Tuesday to Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney and Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner, the state’s two senators and 10 representatives emphasized the congressional support that would come with putting the jet factory in their state.

“We are the aerospace industry’s strongest allies and loudest advocates in Congress,” the letter said.

The appeal comes as Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, California, Kansas and Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, offered varying mixtures of tax credits, monetary grants, free land, infrastructure spending and other incentives to win the factory. Many of the states declined to provide details of their proposals, citing a confidentiality agreement imposed by Boeing.

Boeing said proposals have started to arrive, and it expected to have a firm count later in the week. It declined to name any locations and said it plans to choose a factory location early next year.

Washington’s effort to win the work began in mid-October, when Machinist union leaders began holding confidential talks with the company about a labor deal that could clinch the location for the state.

The talks eventually led to a formal offer that Machinists rejected Nov. 13. Now, both sides are struggling to restart talks, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Seattle Times reported that Conner met Tuesday with Machinists union officials who led the rejection of the company’s offer.

Boeing appears to be moving quickly to make a first cut of the list of potential locations, perhaps as early as the end of the week, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information was not public. That has put pressure on the sides to come together.

“They are struggling to figure out how to save face and get back to the table,” the source added.