Even If TA Is Passed, IAM Strike May Have Been Last Straw
While officials of the International Association of Machinists
are high-fiving each other over
a tentative contract settlement with Boeing,
others worry frequent labor disputes are pushing the manufacturer
to look for sunnier skies -- literally.
Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia tells Reuters, "This is the
exact opposite of a partnership between management and labor. Both
sides think the worst of each other. Boeing management's way out of
it will be to move."
There have been hints dropped for years. Boeing has been based
in the Seattle area since 1910, but in 2001 moved its corporate
offices to Chicago, and came close to building its 787 Dreamliner
The State of Washington intervened with tax breaks and the
Dreamliner stayed... but Boeing has lost 200 days of production in
its Seattle-area plants over the past two decades, and that's
certainly left Boeing soured on its home state.
During a 1991 speech before the Seattle Chamber of Commerce,
former Boeing Chairman Frank Shrontz warned civic leaders a
comparable aircraft could be built in the southeastern US for
30-to-40 percent less than one built in Washington State.
"Could Puget Sound turn into an aerospace rust belt of the 21st
century, complete with padlocked factories, unemployment lines and
urban blight?" Shrontz asked then. "It certainly could."
Even in the short term, the contract agreement isn't all good
news for the 27,000 workers who went on strike. Lump-sum bonuses to
be paid workers under the settlement fall short of covering wages
lost during the strike.
Boeing has not yet said where it will build a replacement for
its popular 737, but the company is reportedly being courted by
states which outlaw mandatory union membership. Known as "right to
work" states, suitors are said to include Alabama, Texas and the