Boeing's End Days


The Boeing strike will likely conclude with a Saturday vote approving a 15 percent wage increase over four years, a freeze on medical costs, bonuses and pension increases. Strikers gutted it out 52 days; the question now is, how long will Boeing endure? Five, ten, fifteen years here?

That's what the P-I's James Wallace has been asking, sounding out corporate officials and analysts; there seems a quiet affirmation that the Lazy B is planning the ultimate outsourcing, eventually moving whole assembly plants to right-to-work states in a slow-motion pullout. Most certain about this is Richard Aboulafia, senior analyst for the Teal Group:

This move will likely happen in phases, with new programs such as 737-X and 777-X established elsewhere and the 787 line shifting locations. Bair's proposed supersite is the opposite of what will likely happen. The Puget Sound aviation cluster won't be moved in one giant piece; rather, like every other ex-cluster, it will disaggregate. The final assembly lines will move to right-to-work states. Outsourced major airframe sections will continue to be shifted to multiple locations, either abroad or to right-to-work states...

Of course this threat plays well in Chicago: Boeing isn't saying anything, just letting paranoia do its thing to the rank and file. As one blog commentator tells Wallace: "Everyone continually forgets, in the 1970's the steelworkers union told their members that they had nothing to fear, the plants would always be there. The steel plants in PA and OH are gone. Unfortunately workers are an expendable resource..."

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