Boeing stays local, pleases unions

EVERETT - Unions at The Boeing Co. are welcoming the company's recent decision to expand operations in Western Washington.

Machinists local president Tom Wroblewski said it’s a relief after years of seeing Chicago-based Boeing move work from the Puget Sound area to outside suppliers.

“We are optimistic this could signal a change in attitude that Chicago finally recognizes the tremendous resources they have in their work force here,” Wroblewski said.

Boeing spokeswoman Cris McHugh said Friday that the company plans to expand its composites fabrication and assembly center in south Seattle by year’s end, and shift it from Boeing’s defense division to its commercial airplanes division.

Boeing plans to eventually have about 900 workers at the composites site – a net gain of about 500 workers – who will work on the next version of the 787, the 787-9.

Boeing’s unions criticized the company for its extensive outsourcing of the 787-8, a mostly composite, fuel-efficient airplane that is more than two years behind schedule. The first delivery of that aircraft recently was pushed back from late this year to mid-February.

Company officials have said Boeing plans to bring design work on the 787-9 back in-house. Tom Mc-Carty, president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents engineers and technical workers, said Friday’s announcement might be evidence of that.

In an interview earlier this week, Jim Albaugh, president of commercial airplanes, told The Herald of Everett that the company relied too much on outsourcing for the 787-8.

To give the company a buffer against a labor stoppage or trouble with a partner, “we’ll do some of everything,” he said.

About 390 defense employees work at the composites center, McHugh said. Most will transition to the commercial airplanes division when it takes over the site.