Boeing to narrow 777X proposals

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Dec. 18, 2013

The Boeing Co. is narrowing site proposals for the 777X work from 54 sites to a handful this week, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a letter to employees.

Boeing has not disclosed which sites are making the cut during the elimination process. Boeing plans to announce the 777X site or sites early next year.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley talks about 777X from Charleston Regional Business Journal on Vimeo.

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Gov. Nikki Haley declined to say whether South Carolina submitted a proposal for the 777X work during a recent visit to Daniel Island. (Photo by Liz Segrist)

 

“Boeing is a company that we will always support. They are family. We are partners.”

— S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley declined to say whether South Carolina submitted a proposal for the 777X work. Haley previously said she told Boeing leadership that North Charleston will welcome another aircraft site if the aerospace giant has interest.

“Boeing is a company that we will always support. They are family. We are partners. ... We always stay in talks of just making sure we’re helping them to be successful, and we will continue to do that,” Haley said Tuesday during a visit to Benefitfocus on Daniel Island.

Haley said the aerospace workforce would be ready if Boeing decided to bring its 777X production to South Carolina to accompany the 787 assembly site in North Charleston.

Seattle TV station King5 interviewed several Machinists union members in Washington state; in the video they asserted that South Carolina does not have the institutional knowledge with its aerospace workforce that the Puget Sound area has built up over the decades.

Boeing announced plans Friday to establish a research and development facility in North Charleston, with plans to hire up to 400 employees. Boeing also announced Friday that it acquired 468 acres in North Charleston to accommodate future growth in South Carolina, including the 267 acres it had already planned to close on that day.

“The expansions that you’re seeing is because we are up to the job, and we are able to build airplanes and we are able to build them well. So, I think we’ve proven to the world that South Carolina builds things. ... We will continue to do that and make sure we improve with the times,” Haley said.

As states wait to hear Boeing’s decision regarding the 777X site, Conner wrote a letter to employees to explain Boeing’s stance following the Machinist union leaders’ rejection Thursday of Boeing’s counterproposal regarding the 777X in Washington. Read the full letter here.

Conner said Boeing met with union leaders with the hope of reaching a contract extension to place 777X final assembly and wing fabrication and assembly in Puget Sound. Conner said Boeing responded to a proposal from the union with a “best and final counterproposal.”

“We were sincere in asking for the union leadership’s commitment to support our improved final proposal as a tentative agreement that would be taken to a vote by IAM members with a recommendation for approval. However, that did not happen. ... It was a rejection, plain and simple, and we now have to turn and face the reality of the union leadership’s final decision.

“Based on last week’s outcome, we have now moved on to the next steps in the selection process for 777X work placement, which will be completed early next year,” Conner wrote.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist.

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