Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:21 am
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Workers at Boeing were in a difficult spot last week. Their employer offered a new contract cutting back retirement and health benefits. It came with what looked like a threat. The company said it might have to move important operations out of Washington State and hire new workers. Union members approved the contract, barely, and Boeing is staying put.
Journalist Hedricks Smith written about the decline of the middle-class. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, he says Boeing just contributed to that.
That's because Washington State machinists narrowly approved a contract on Friday to build the airplane near Seattle. It's a move that concludes Missouri's high-profile bid at landing a significant economic development opportunity for the St. Louis region.
When Boeing decided to move production of its 777X passenger plane out of Seattle, states across the country were eager to offer their services. Missouri's political and business leaders were no exception. They simply couldn't miss out on the chance to cement thousands of high-paying jobs for decades to come.
Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, Jr., left, and U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, met earlier in December in Washington, D.C. Luetkemeyer is part of a bipartisan contingent of federal lawmakers using the bully pulpit to steer Boeing's 777X to Missouri.
When U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer met with Boeing CEO James McNerney in his Washington office earlier this month, his message wasn’t subtle.
Luetkemeyer was there to make the case that Missouri was the right place to steer production of Boeing's 777X civilian aircraft. He said he told McNerney he was “excited about the opportunity for the state of Missouri to bid on it.”
“Whatever help we could be at the federal level, we would more than willing to do that,” Luetkemeyer , R-St. Elizabeth, said.
Boeing has been on the minds of the Show-Me State's political figures lately, thanks to the effort to lure the manufacturing of the 777X airplane to Missouri. Now, the company is planning to bring several hundred research and development jobs to the St. Louis region.
St. Louis County is prepared to offer up to $1.8 billion to Boeing if the company steers production of the 777X aircraft to the county.
The St. Louis County Council unanimously approved a resolution pledging local incentives – including tax increment financing and tax abatement – if Boeing moves production of the civilian aircraft to the the county. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said the swift action was necessary to meet Tuesday’s deadline for the state to respond to the company’s request for proposal.