Boeing South Carolina will break ground at 10 a.m. Tuesday on a 225,000-square-foot plant to build engine inlet components.
Boeing’s Propulsion South Carolina at 9775 Patriot Blvd. in Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston will design and assemble the 737 MAX nacelles, which include the circular inlets and carbon-reinforced composite pods that encase the engines for an updated version of boeing’s top-selling, single-aisle jet.
Boeing has not announced the number of jobs the new plant will create, but they are included in the 2,000 new positions promised as part of a $1 billion investment over the next eight years.
Boeing has about 6,100 workers in the region, mostly at its 787 campus at Charleston International Airport.
Now, it’s up to the union.
A sweeping package of $8.7 billion in tax breaks and other incentives signed into law Monday in Washington state fulfills the first half of Boeing’s request to keep production of the forthcoming 777X in the Pacific Northwest.
The second half is up to the International Association of Machinists union. Members vote Wednesday until 6 p.m. Pacific time.
Media reports out of the Evergreen State suggest the vote will be close. If it fails, Boeing says it will begin looking elsewhere to build the next generation of twin-engine jets.
With Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature in a ceremony at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, tax breaks and education programs passed Saturday by lawmakers became state law.
“We have now done everything the state can do,” Inslee said at the end of the bill-signing ceremony. “Plan A has been done. Plan B is for the Machinists to vote. They will make a decision based on their family’s welfare. The plan is to build this airplane and win 56,000 jobs.”
He was referring to about 20,000 jobs directly related to building the 777X and its composite wings and another 36,000 or so indirect jobs created in the region as a result of the new Boeing work.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said the legislation coupled with the union’s contract extension will “cement for decades to come good high-paying jobs.”
He said the company was under siege by competition from abroad and needs state tax breaks and the union vote to take on competition.
“This is our opportunity to win and to win big,” he said.
The Machinists union will vote on an eight-year labor contract extension that cuts pension and health-care benefits but promises a $10,000 signing bonus and other carrots.
The upcoming vote follows a raucous union meeting on Thursday where a union leader reportedly ripped up a copy of the contract proposal and called it “a piece of crap” and a majority of members said they would vote against the labor agreement hammered out last week.
Reiterating an often-heard phrase when Boeing decided to build its second 787 Dreamliner production line in North Charleston, union leader Tom Wroblewski said, “This could be a game changer. The legislation makes sure our children and grandchildren are taken care of.”
His comments were in stark contrast to last week, when Wroblewski reportedly tore up the contract at the end of the union meeting in Seattle.
Some of the contract proposal’s opponents demonstrated their displeasure at a rally Monday at the union hall in Everett, near Boeing’s big factory at Paine Field, according to The Herald of Everett.
If the union approves the contract proposal, it will ensure labor peace through 2024. The existing contract ends in 2016.
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