Boeing has been eliminating thousands of jobs–union jobs–in Washington State and moving them to other states–non-union states.
Boeing won’t say where it will assemble the 777X. Nor will it say where it will assemble the 787-10.
So, predictably, new hand-wringing has begun among local officials and state politicians that Boeing is leaving the state. An “exodus,” in the headline over an OpEd piece in The Seattle Times by State Sen. Mike Hewitt, a Republican.
There is much in Hewitt’s piece with which we agree. Just yesterday we commented that Washington leaves a lot to be desired in its competitive stance against the Southern States. In May we offered specific ideas of what needs to be done.
The State’s new Aerospace Strategy, unveiled in May, reads more like a history than a forward-looking document. And as a state aerospace strategy, it’s woefully lacking in innovation or looking beyond Boeing to the rest of the aerospace industry. Washington’s supply chain is the No. 2 supplier by company count to Airbus and No. 6 by dollar volume. Yet the Aerospace Strategy doesn’t detail how to increase this business with Airbus, nor does it address the rest of the global business opportunities except in the most general way.
Hewitt is right that there is little to really point to in Washington’s strategy. But Hewitt omits the biggest sin of his own party: the Republican budget proposal eliminates funding for the Governor’s Office on Aerospace, which was created less than a year before.
That was a dumb move, and it hardly supports Hewitt’s decrying the shortcomings of the Democratic governors he is so keen to criticize (with justification, we repeat).
Washington’s Legislature, like Congress, is divided, and we’re at a budget impasse. The Office of Aerospace funding is in the Democratic budget, and the contrasts haven’t been resolved. Hewitt needs to buck his party and put this funding back. (Maybe he’s done so, but he certainly didn’t mention it in his OpEd piece.)
But there’s more in the flaw of Washington’s aerospace strategy.
There is a group called the Washington Aerospace Partnership, a 501(c)4 non-profit in August 2012. It supersedes a previous state-sponsored aerospace group. The membership is:
Look closely at this membership. The membership is comprised of two Boeing unions, a union labor council, four economic development commissions, one chamber of commerce and other public councils charged with economic development.
There isn’t a single supplier. Boeing isn’t on it. There isn’t a trade group representing the supply chain or defense. There isn’t a single representative with a global aerospace perspective (unless you count the state employees, who certainly have an understanding of global issues but are driven by a myopic State of Washington perspective).
These are a bunch of economic development council people talking to (and competing with) each other for aerospace business, three labor unions and two state employees.
We find this pretty sad. One would think industry might have a thing or two to contribute.
To be sure, Washington has come a long way in making progress. But it still has a long way–a very long way–to go to overcome decades of complacency and to catch up with the dynamic South.