Boeing picks South Carolina for Dreamliner assembly line

The News TribuneOctober 28, 2009 

The irresistible attraction of lower wages, a big state incentive and a non-union environment lured The Boeing Co. to announce this afternoon that it will build a second 787 Dreamliner production line in South Carolina.

Attempts by Sen. Patty Murray to orchestrate an eleventh-hour meeting between the company and its Machinists Union to salvage a new labor agreement deal weren't successful, and the company cast its lot with the site in North Charleston, S.C.

Boeing had sought no-strike concessions from the Machinists as part of the consideration for putting the second line in Everett where the first production line for the Dreamliner is located. But despite negotiations between the union and the company last week, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state where establishing a union is more difficult. The company has been the subject of multiple strikes in the last two decades at its production facilities in the Puget Sound area.

"Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane," said Boeing CEO Jim Albaugh, the new president of Boeing's commercial airplane operation.

"This decision allows us to continue building the synergies we have established in South Carolina with Boeing Charleston and Global Aeronautica," he said.

Members of Washington's congressional delegation expressed regret that the decision was for South Carolina.

As late as Wednesday morning Murray tried to bring the machinists union and Boeing back to the table. The union agreed. Boeing rejected the offer in a terse statement.

In addition to the non-union environment, Boeing will find wages substantially lower in South Carolina where assembly line workers make $14 an hour versus $26 in the Puget Sound area.

For Washington, the biggest potential impact may be long term. Boeing in the next decade is expected to create new planes to replace the 777 and the single-aisle 737. The 737 is built in Renton. The 777 is assembled in Everett.

Read more at TheNewsTribune.com

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