Machinists vote critical for region, political leaders say

The Associated PressDecember 31, 2013 

The Boeing Co. told political leaders in the Puget Sound area Monday that this week’s vote by Machinists will determine the fate of some jobs on the new 777X airplane.

Local politicians gathered at a news conference in Everett to discuss the importance of approving the revised contract offer. They said Boeing executive Ray Conner told the government leaders earlier in the day that an accepted contract will ensure that work on the airplane’s wing stays in the Puget Sound area, but a vote to reject the deal will ensure the jobs go elsewhere.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke says there is no other choice but to vote yes. Otherwise, the politicians warned of a decline in the state’s aerospace industry.

“We will see the demise of the economic stimulus that Boeing has provided us,” Cooke said.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder declined to discuss details of the company’s conversations with local leaders but said this week will “be the last opportunity for the union to vote prior to Boeing making a decision” on where it will build the 777X.

Local union leaders have opposed the contract because they believe it involves too many concessions, including a plan to shift workers away from traditional pensions. National leaders in International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have scheduled a vote despite the objections of local officials.

Since the Machinists rejected a contract offer last month, the company has solicited bids from other states. A total of 22 states have submitted offers to secure work on the 777X.

Boeing’s warning Monday focused on the composite wing needed for the 777X. John Lovick, the Snohomish County executive, said Boeing plans to build a 1.2 million square foot building to construct the wing in the Puget Sound area if the Machinists approve the latest offer.

The political leaders said the company’s warnings didn’t address where the fuselage would be built if Machinists reject the offer.

“We have an opportunity to either grow the aerospace industry here in Everett … and here in the state of Washington,” said Bob Drewel, former Snohomish County executive, “or, unfortunately and conversely, we will watch that industry shrink in front of us.”

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