Dec. 22, 2020, © Leeham News: If you get a chance over the next few weeks – in between binge-watching The Queen’s Gambit, putting up the 79 extra feet of Christmas lights you ordered this year and figuring out how to buy surprise Christmas gifts for your spouse when you have a joint Amazon account – you should take 90 minutes to watch this video from our friends at the International Association of Machinists District Lodge 751.
The Machinists on Dec. 8 hosted (on Zoom, of course) a high-level panel discussion about the state of the aerospace industry and Washington state’s role in it, featuring a whole bunch of Brand-Name People Who are Smarter Than Me(c).
They shared their insights for those of us coffee-drinkers who are trying to read the tea leaves to divine what Boeing’s next moves should be as it tries to get back on its feet – and what the implications are for its home state.
The problems for Boeing are obvious, and the solutions are pretty clear – but doing the smart thing would require a major cultural shift from an executive team that’s locked into a 1990s vision of how business gets done.
This is the second in a series of articles examining how labor, Boeing and Washington state could move forward following the COVID pandemic. The first article is here.
By Bryan Corliss
Nov. 30, 2020, © Leeham News — You might want to set yourself an Outlook calendar reminder for January 2024.
It’s going to be a pivotal year for Boeing, its home state and its workforce. By then, the company’s recovery from the current Covid-caused crisis should be underway, with the order book refilling.
The countdown should be on for the long-delayed roll-out of the reconceived NMA, at long last giving Boeing a real counter to the Airbus A321. And — barring a surge in 737 MAX orders after its return to service — Boeing could be close to making some tough decisions about the future of the 737 program, thinking hard about whether after 60 years it’s finally time to design and build a clean-sheet replacement.
Also by then, the 787 program will have fully consolidated into Charleston, and the last 747 will have departed the Paine Field flight line, leaving The World’s Largest Building (By Volume) half-empty.
Then, in January 2024, Boeing’s contract with its touch-labor union – IAM District 751 – will expire, after a 10-year extension that was part of the price Machinists paid to ensure the 777X would be assembled in Everett. For the first time since the summer of 2008, the two sides will sit down at a bargaining table with the union having the ability to call for a strike.
What happens between now and January 2024 will pretty much decide the future of Boeing in Washington state. If the players are clear-eyed and rational, we could see a return to the days when high-skilled workers built high-quality planes that created handsome profits for Boeing shareholders and family-wage jobs for Boeing workers.
By Scott Hamilton
Oct. 5, 2020, © Leeham News: The contrast in tones couldn’t be sharper.
With the announcement last Thursday by Boeing it will consolidate 787 production from Everett into Charleston, local political leaders were disappointed but understanding and even sympathetic.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin likened Boeing to a family member who was in crisis. Hard decisions by Boeing were made, but in a crisis, you must. Support your family. Understand the situation. Figure out how to make the best of it to move forward.
On the other hand, Gov. Jay Inslee vowed to review the state’s relationship with Boeing and tax breaks granted to the company. Inslee claimed understanding but his tone was hostile, defiant and angry.
By Bryan Corliss
Sept. 7, 2020, © Leeham News: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the pundits are saying Boeing is going to leave Puget Sound, leaving behind the hollow husk of a company doomed to wither and die on the vine.
Just like they did in 2003, in 2009, in 2013 and 2016.
Seattle-area political economist and author T.M. Sell, in fact, traces the company’s first threat to leave clear back to the 1920s, when company executives got into a fight with the Seattle City Council over building new roads to connect downtown with the airport we now call Boeing Field.
Boeing said it would pack up and move to southern California, if Seattle didn’t cooperate.
“Like rain in winter, this is a regular feature of the Puget Sound emotional landscape,” Sell opined back in 2009.
Aug. 31, 2020, © Leeham News: Elected officials and others in Washington State worry about the “brain drain” as Boeing considers whether to consolidate 787 production from Everett to Charleston.
These people are asleep at the switch and have been for some time. The brain drain is already just around the corner.
Nearly half of the membership of SPEEA, the engineers and technicians union at Boeing, are 50 years or older right now.
Almost two thirds of these are within 55-64 years old. In other words, ready for retirement right now or soon to be.
Aug. 24, 2020, © Leeham News: Did Boeing telegraph plans to consolidate its 787 production in Charleston last February?
That’s when Boeing announced it asked the Washington Legislature to cancel tax breaks granted in 2003 to locate what was then the only 787 production line, in Washington.
Given subsequent events in which Boeing in July said it will consider consolidating two lines into one, one must wonder if the decision is already made. There’s near unanimous conclusions by outsiders that Everett’s days producing the 787 are numbered.
When Boeing said it asked the Legislature to cancel the tax breaks, officials said it was doing so to comply with a long-ago decision by the World Trade Organization that the breaks were illegal.
The WTO has yet to agree. It’s their call, not Boeing’s whether compliance was achieved.
But what is unequivocally true is that if Boeing moved 787 production out of Washington, those 2003 tax breaks would disappear. Gary Locke, who was governor in 2003 when the Legislature approved them, told me in 2008 this was the case.