When the first 787 Dreamliner finished here rolls out of the final assembly building at the Boeing plant in North Charleston today, it will be a momentous event. And not just because that’s such a big aircraft (206 feet long) and some big shots will be there to take credit for it.
The uplifting symbolism of that maginificent flying machine refutes the widespread notion that we Americans — including South Carolinians — can’t make anything anymore.
After a few weeks of testing, that first 787 from the Boeing factory here will take wing to Texas for painting. Eventually, probably in June, Air India will take possession of that Dreamliner.
The workers at the North Charleston factory can take fitting pride in their achievement. A letter on this page vividly captures that well-earned sense of a job very well done while correctly stressing that the availability of a non-union workforce was a crucial factor in Boeing’s 2009 decision to put the Dreamliner assembly plant here.
Many Americans far beyond South Carolina’s borders rightly decried the National Labor Relations Board’s unprecedented lawsuit charging that Boeing’s site choice — and its executives’ honest statements about our non-union advantage — was evidence of illegal “retaliation” against a union in Washington state.
Fortunately, that suit was settled late last year.
But enough about the blatantly pro-labor, anti-business bias of the NLRB under the Obama administration. Back to today’s inspiring debut: Workers at our Boeing plant aren’t the only folks who should be thrilled by the sight of that awesome product skillfully made in the United States — and in South Carolina. The many community, state and business leaders who worked so hard to sell Boeing on the idea of putting that plant here can also take satisfaction in their collective triumph.
Even S.C. residents who didn’t participate in that pitch to Boeing and don’t work at that plant should share the joy — and encouragement — of knowing that around here, the “jobless” prefix for the economic recovery continues to fade. Indeed, while the state unemployment rate remained too high at 8.9 percent in March, it has dropped for eight consecutive months.
And again, we Americans — we South Carolinians — can still make some impressive products.
Or, with apologies to Mark Twain:
Reports of the death of American manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated.