The Spokane area, and the Inland Northwest in general, should benefit just like the rest of the state from Boeing Co. machinists’ recent approval—albeit narrowly—of an eight-year contract extension with the company.
In particular, it should help keep the multifaceted effort to strengthen the aerospace industry sector here on an upward trajectory.
Members of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers District 751 grudgingly conceded some pension and health care benefits in order to secure assembly of the company’s new 777X airplane.
As a result, Boeing said in a news release after the vote, the highly anticipated plane and its composite wing will be built in the Puget Sound area by company employees represented by the IAM. That work, it said, will include fabrication of major components such as interiors and wires, building the fuselage, and final assembly.
“Thanks to this vote by our employees, the future of Boeing in the Puget Sound region has never looked brighter,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner in the news release. “We’re proud to say that together, we’ll build the world’s next great airplane—the 777X and its new wing--—right here. This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology, while sustaining thousands of local jobs for years to come.”
It also clearly will help sustain jobs and promote hiring at aerospace companies here that supply components to Boeing, says Robin Toth, Greater Spokane Incorporated’s vice president of business development and aerospace specialists, and Carol Weigand, Spokane-based director of the statewide Air Washington education and job training project.
Noting that the Inland Northwest is home to more than 100 aerospace companies, many of which supply Boeing, Toth says, “Anything that happens to Boeing really has a trickle-down effect on us. There’s a definite correlation between what’s going on over there and what’s going on here.”
Noteworthy examples of companies here that benefit from that effect, to name just a few, are Triumph Composite Systems Inc., UTC Aerospace Systems, Altek Inc., and Parker Aerospace, which collectively employ hundreds of people here.
Weigand calls the machinists’ vote “very impactful” locally, noting that Boeing likes its suppliers to be close to its manufacturing facilities to provide just-in-time delivery. The company’s possible relocation of 777X production to some other state, as it was considering seriously after machinists’ rejected an earlier proposed contract, thus could have had a debilitating effect on suppliers here.
Also possibly kept alive by the machinists’ approval of the contract extension are long-held hopes among Spokane economic-development leaders that Boeing might develop a manufacturing plant here, on the West Plains to support its Puget Sound operations.
Whether that ever materializes, aerospace industry proponents here can rest easier knowing that a sub-stantial economic contributor won’t be jetting away.
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE