Monday, November 18, 2013
What Is the 777X and Why Are the Unions Upset?
Boeing launched its newest version of the 777, the 777X, at the Dubai Air Show yesterday (Sunday.) The 400 seat twin aisle plane is its response to Airbus's A350. Jon Ostrower gives us a peek at the plane in this Wall Street Journal video:
The 777X is the center chessboard in a match between Boeing and its unions. Boeing had built a huge new plant at the cost of a billion dollars in South Carolina. Just as it was to open it, its union brought a complaint against it before the NLRB that claimed Boeing built the plant to break the union. With the help of a friendly NLRB, the union was able to reach a settlement with Boeing that shifted certain work to Seattle, including some from Wichita.
Now it is Boeing's move.
When it came to deciding where to build the 777X, Boeing's last big development project, it presented a deal to the State of Washington and its union with which it would build most of the 777X in Seattle. The state offered $8.7 billion in incentives (that is a lot of money.) It proposed a new contact to the union that would shift to a defined contribution pension plan among other concessions. However, "the 32,000 unionized members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, also known as the IAM, rejected the deal by a 67% to 33% margin." With no deal, Boeing is looking around the country and the world to decide where to assemble the new jetliner and build the wings and other parts. Molly Mullins reports in the Wichita Eagle that there is an attempt to get some of that work here in Wichita. She reported that "Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition officials met Thursday morning to discuss going after the 777X work for Boeing’s facility in Wichita Boeing."
Boeing says it will decide where to build the plan in the next two to three months.