Gov. Jay Inslee said after the Machinists District 751 union rejected Boeing's contract offer, Boeing is opening a national competition for 777X jet-making jobs. He pledged in a late-evening news conference at the state Capitol that Washington is ready to compete - not just with a skilled aerospace workforce but also a package of tax incentives the Legislature approved on Saturday and he signed into law on Monday.
In rejecting the contract, Machinists leader Tom Wroblewski said workers were protecting "something sacred," a reference to pension security that a proposed eight-year contract with Boeing would have eroded by converting to a 401(k) style pension plan.
Inslee, a Democrat elected last year with the backing of labor groups, declined to criticize the union directly when asked if it was a good or bad decision by the workers, who voted by a roughly two-to-one margin to reject the contract offer.
But he suggested the vote turned a certain victory - securing 56,000 aerospace jobs - into a competition Boeing intends to take nationwide.
“The fact is we could have won this tonight without any competition. That didn’t happen," Inslee said. But he also said Boeing told him Washington is still in the running.
“I was assured we will be one of those competitors," Inslee said.
In touting Washington as a good place for Boeing to expand its 777X production and to place its new carbon-fiber wing assembly plant, Inslee said the state has an excellent workforce. In a not-so-veiled jab at South Carolina, which has seen production delays on Boeing aircraft, he said Washington is the place to build airplanes with on-time production.
“The fact is this, if you want to build reliably, with the highest quality in the world on time the state of Washington is the place to do it,’’ Inslee said.
“We have strong assets we intend to bring to this competition,’’ Inslee said.
Inslee's spokesman David Postman said the governor talked earlier in the evening with Tim Keating, a Boeing executive, and he remains available to talk to the company and union if it can help.