Inslee, Boeing trying to rally after fumbleNovember 7th, 2013 by ed friedrich
If Gov. Jay Inslee was trying to pull a fast one by claiming
Boeing was only guaranteed to keep its new 777X jet work here if
the Legislature passed a transportation revenue package, he did a
pretty bad job of it.
Not long after he called a special session Tuesday, the Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates linked to a letter of understanding between Boeing and the Machinists Union said nothing of the sort. All workers have to do to keep the work in the Puget Sound area is ratify an 8-year deal next week that would cut their pensions and make them pay more for health care but give them all $10,000 signing bonuses.
When confronted with the letter, Alex Pietsch, director of Inslee’s aerospace office, said it ran counter to conversations the governor had with Boeing.
“They’ve told us both pieces (contract and incentives) have to be in place,” he said. “We’ve been told this is a two-part deal.
Ever since the crack emerged, Inslee, Boeing and the union have been trying to seal it. Early Wednesday evening, Inslee spokesman David Postman said he just received a short letter from Boeing and that company officials told legislative leaders in a conference call that afternoon that the company’s decision to locate the project in Washington state is dependent on approval of the new machinists contract and on the legislative package proposed by the governor Tuesday.
“Pursuant to our discussions this week, Boeing is committed to placing 777X final assembly and wing fabrication in the Puget Sound region,” it read. “This commitment, however, will be solidified if the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 751 contract proposal is ratified in a vote by the membership next week and favorable economic incentives are implemented by the State of Washington.”
The letter is signed by Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division.
He said it would be “solidified” by a new contact and incentives, but nothing about deal-breakers.
At about the same time Wednesday, the union sent out a statement that Postman relayed to the media.
“District 751 Legislative Director Larry Brown is leading a 10-member delegation to Olympia tomorrow to personally lobby legislators to support the Governor’s package of 777X proposals, including the transportation plan,” it read. “Any suggestion that the union thinks Legislative action isn’t necessary is simply wrong.”
Then late Thursday morning, Postman sent out a letter he said had just been hand-delivered, from Boeing Senior Vice President for Government Operations Tim Keating.
“I want to confirm that in proposing your package of incentives for legislative consideration, you have correctly interpreted our previous conversations about the elements needed for us to be competitive long into the future in Washington State, and the need for timely action to show partnership with our workforce,” it states.
“We are appreciative that you have convened a special session of the Legislature to achieve the results that are necessary for the Boeing Company to locate a 777X program in Washington State.
“Your proposal for workforce investments, permitting efficiencies, tax incentives, water quality regulations and transportation infrastructure improvements, in combination with a forward looking agreement with our workforce, will ensure our lasting competitiveness in Washington State.”
Interpreting what local lawmakers have told me, it’s not likely a transpiration revenue package can get passed during this special session. The Senate’s Majority Caucus Coalition wants it to come with reforms to the way the Department of Transportation conducts business. That will take some time, and Boeing will be OK with that. They expect other incentives like job training, permit streamlining and extending tax breaks shouldn’t take much time at all and should get done before machinists go to vote on Wednesday.