A detailed summary of the 777X deal agreed between the Machinists union and Boeing Tuesday indicates that the company’s commitment to build the 777X in Washington state hinges solely on the union vote Nov. 13.
The union summary, posted on the Web Wednesday, reproduces a letter of understanding between Boeing and the union explicitly stating that if the deal is ratified in that vote next week, Boeing “agrees to locate the 777X wing fabrication and assembly, and final assembly of the 777X in Puget Sound.”
Elsewhere, the union says the project will include new buildings totaling over 1.5 million square feet.
There is no caveat in the letter about a parallel requirement for the state legislature to pass the package of initiatives that Gov. Jay Inslee presented Tuesday as he called a week-long special session.
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A veteran machinist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said union members are interpreting the letter to mean that buy-in by the politicians in Olympia isn’t necessary to win the Boeing work.
“It’s all on us. The people that do the work,” he said. “The whole economic future of this area is on that vote next Wednesday.”
Alex Pietsch, director of the Gov. Inslee’s aerospace office, expressed surprise that the letter of understanding omits any condition that the legislature also act.
“That’s counter to the conversations the Governor has had with the Boeing company,” Pietsch said. “They’ve told us both pieces have to be in place. We’ve been told this is a two-part deal.”
What’s at stake was summed up in a letter to union members from International Association of Machinists district 751 president Tom Wroblewski.
“Today we are at a crossroads. Together we must choose what is best as a union, as individuals and as a family,” he wrote. Wroblewski added that Boeing says approval “will create job growth in Puget Sound and Portland for the next 25 to 30 years while allowing them to be competitive.”
“If this contract is ratified, new buildings totaling over one and a half million square feet will be built to house the 777X final assembly and 777X wing production securing wide body production in Everett,” he continued.
Boeing was expected to build a new advanced manufacturing facility to fabricate the giant wings of the 777X, made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic composite.
Wroblewski’s letter suggests for the first time that Boeing will build a separate new final assembly plant dedicated to 777X.
The total square footage cited is enormous, equal to a third of the existing assembly plant in Everett, which is the largest building by volume in the world.
Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org