Unions Vow Legislative Action After Boeing Slashes Jobs

, Managing Editor | Puget Sound Business Journal

File - Union workers cheer at a "Build it Here" rally Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in downtown Seattle. The Washington State Labor Council called for the rally, saying it wanted to show Boeing and state leaders it supports Machinists union members who voted last week to reject contract concessions Boeing said it needed to build the new 777X in Washington. | AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

File – Union workers cheer at a “Build it Here” rally Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in downtown Seattle. The Washington State Labor Council called for the rally, saying it wanted to show Boeing and state leaders it supports Machinists union members who voted last week to reject contract concessions Boeing said it needed to build the new 777X in Washington. | AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Boeing union leaders reacted angrily Monday to the announcement that the company plans to move about 2,000 defense-related jobs out of Washington state.

The Boeing engineers union said it will respond by calling on the Legislature to revisit Boeing tax breaks — an accountability measure that union leaders say lawmakers failed to do when handing over $8.7 billion in incentives to land the 777X project late last year.

“The reality is that Boeing is the chief benefactor of those breaks,” said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. “It received them, and immediately turned around and started planning how they were going to take more jobs away.”

Boeing said Monday it’s moving the majority of its defense-related activities from Washington state to other locations, including St. Louis and Oklahoma City, in a consolidation move. The company will shed 2,000 jobs from Washington state over a three-year period.

The cuts will not affect the Everett-built KC-46A tanker nor the Renton-built P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, Boeing said. That leaves the primary targets of the cutbacks to be the Kent Space Center and the Boeing Development Center in Tukwila, near Boeing Field. Programs affected include AWACS systems and the F-22 Raptor.

SPEEA officials expect that about 1,000 of the jobs cut will affect its members, with the rest hitting non-union employees or those in other unions, such as Machinists. Boeing says it will try to “mitigate the impact of this decision on individual employees” through transfers to other programs in the region.

The Machinists Union also issued a statement Monday, saying it’s still unclear whether union members would be affected.

“We are concerned and disappointed with the continuing loss of high-wage aerospace jobs in our state,” said Jon Holden, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, in a press statement. “This is not the job growth our legislators had in mind when they approved the nation’s largest tax-incentive plan for the industry last winter, and this is why we are partnering on legislation that would put accountability measures in place.”

Union leaders have a meeting with Boeing scheduled for Tuesday, the same day Boeing officials will hold meetings with workers in the plants to discuss the cutbacks.

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