The seven Democrats in Washington state’s congressional delegation wrote to Boeing CEO David Calhoun on Monday, urging him to take federal bailout money “to safeguard thousands of jobs at Boeing in Washington state and across the country.”
The letter noted that while Boeing had pressed for the nation’s aviation and aerospace sectors to be included in the government rescue program to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus epidemic, “we are disappointed to read reports that you are now considering forgoing the relief Boeing requested.”
“We are especially troubled by this development given your recently announced decision to indefinitely suspend operations at Puget Sound and Moses Lake area facilities, require employees who are unable to telework to use earned vacation and/or sick leave or to seek unemployment, and implement a vague voluntary layoff program,” the seven wrote.
They also asked Calhoun whether he would “ensure complete support for the Boeing Company workforce by eliminating layoffs, maintaining full compensation and benefits levels and returning hours to appropriate employee levels when medically safe.”
The state’s three Republican U.S. representatives did not sign the letter.
Calhoun has said Boeing may not take any federal bailout money if it comes with strings attached — such as giving the federal government an equity stake in the company — and that financing is also available from private sources. The terms of federal support are to be negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Top Democrats in Congress have voiced concern about Mnuchin’s negotiating stance as well, suggesting he may demand too much of a stake in airlines and other companies being rescued, in order to make sure that taxpayers are compensated.
Monday’s letter also requested information on how the company is changing its cleaning and hygiene practices after several dozen employees in Puget Sound facilities contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. And it asked Calhoun to detail how Boeing will “assist the 17,000 suppliers and 2.5 million industry jobs your company supports.”