The Machinists union said Tuesday it will seek legislation to hold Boeing accountable for creating and maintaining middle-class jobs with the state tax incentives the company received last year.
The move follows a series of Boeing announcements that it is moving thousands of engineering jobs out of Washington to lower-pay regions.
Boeing received $8.7 billion in tax breaks last year in exchange for committing to build the 777X in the state.
“We as a state did not agree to $8.7 billion worth of tax breaks… so that they could create minimum-wage manufacturing jobs, and move good-paying engineering jobs out of state,” said Larry Brown, legislative director for District 751 of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), in a statement.
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“It’s the biggest corporate tax giveaway in U.S. history,” said Brown. “We think it’s fair that there should be a few strings attached.”
The IAM said it will work with Boeing’s white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), to pursue legislation that would “set some minimum pay and employment standards that Boeing and other companies would have to meet in order to share in the tax handouts.”
Reacting to the move, Alex Pietsch, director of Gov. Jay Inslee’s office of aerospace, insisted that “there are strings attached” to the tax breaks granted last year.
To qualify for the incentives, Boeing was required to build the 777X and its composite wing in the state.
“Boeing is living up to its promise with its announced intention to build a 1.65 million-square-feet expansion,” said Pietsch.
“We are disappointed about these engineering job moves,” Pietsch added. “But the incentive package was about the 777X work and that’s what we bought with those investments. We shouldn’t do anything to put that in jeopardy.”
He said he will wait to see what legislation the unions may come up with before assessing its merits.
Last fall, when politicians hurriedly approved the tax breaks Boeing demanded in return for the 777X commitment, the Machinists union supported the legislation.
Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org