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Latest News - May 2012

May 7, 2012
Boeing Launches First Non-Union Airplane

Boeing 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina (photo: Dan Hamilton)

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has unveiled its first plane built at a new plant in South Carolina, where non-union workers are trying to prove they’re just as capable of producing quality jetliners as the organized labor workforce in Washington State.

The 787 Dreamliner that rolled out of the North Charleston assembly building on April 27 represented the first commercial jet built on the East Coast and the first assembled by a nonunion workforce, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was built for Air India.

For decades, Boeing relied on unionized machinists in Washington to produce its 700 series of planes. But after five strikes in 35 years by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, company executives decided to relocate to South Carolina, a nonunionized “right-to-work” state.

The government of South Carolina lured Boeing to the state with a huge incentive package that included $170 million in low-interest loans for construction; sales tax exemptions for computers, material and fuel used in test flights; property tax breaks worth at least $300 million; and a pass on almost all state corporate income tax for 10 years. The state also agreed to spend $33 million to train workers for Boeing. To fund this package, South Carolina had to borrow $270 million, which will grow to $399 million once interest payments are included.

Building sophisticated aircraft with untested workers is considered a risk for Boeing, whose future could be jeopardized if the planes don’t match the manufacturer’s reputation for quality and reliability.



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