Boeing disputed a report out Friday that it had definitively decided to move production of its next-generation aircraft out of Washington state following a breakdown in contract negotiations with its machinist union. The outlet that wrote the story, the Washington Free Beacon, has since amended it to say that Boeing is only considering the move.
The company raised the possibility that it would move production of its new 777X aircraft after workers voted down a proposed union contract on Nov. 13. "[W]ithout the terms of this contract extension, we're left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X," Boeing President Ray Conner said in a Nov. 14 press statement. The talks have been ongoing.
The Free Beacon posted a story today with the headline: "Boeing To Partly Move Production Out of Washington State Following Union Vote," indicating that the final decision had been made. The story quoted Boeing spokesman Doug Alder as saying: "Since the union rejected the offer, we were forced to pursue all options for locating the 777X. That process is actively underway, although we are not disclosing which locations we are considering."
Alder told the Washington Examiner that his statement to the Free Beacon was not meant to imply that the company had made a decision to move, only that they were still considering it. "I don't think there is anything in my statement that said that," he said. He said he merely meant to reiterate the company's Nov. 14 statement.
The Free Beacon story has since been amended "to reflect an update from Boeing that the company has not yet ruled out Washington state." The headline now reads: "Boeing May Partly Move Production Out of Washington State Following Union Vote."
The story added: "Adler emphasized in a follow-up with the Washington Free Beacon that the company has not yet ruled out Puget Sound. 'We are now in a competitive process that will take many things into account,' he said."
Boeing's Washington factories have been in turmoil since workers with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted down a proposed contract — worked out with union leaders — that would have included a $10,000 signing bonus per worker, modest raises and a shift for workers from a defined benefit pension plan to a 401(k) system. Workers said they wanted to keep the defined benefit system.
The company has said that without the changes they may not be able to justify building their next-generation planes in the state.