Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Told You the Boeing Strike was Stupid

Way back in September of last year, I posted a blog entry called Fools! They're All Fools! Boeing machinists were on strike, and I wrote:

And the main sticking point for them? Job security! Are these people out of their minds? There's no such thing as job security. When Boeing starts to develop the 797 and they need to decide where to assemble the plane, what do you think is going to happen? "Well, we could assemble it in Everett, but they like to strike all the time which causes problems. Perhaps assembling it in some other location where they're less likely to strike would be prudent?"

Shooting themselves in the foot. Boeing must stay competitive, and if that means outsourcing some of their chores, that's what they need to do. And it's not necessarily a bad thing either. If developing countries such as China have a financial interest to buy from Boeing--such as manufacturing some parts in China--they can sell more planes and have more business in Washington.

And while many people in this country are facing foreclosures, loss of jobs, and so forth, the machinists feel now is the best time to walk off the job?

Good luck with that.

The 797 isn't even a figment of someone's imagination yet (so far as I know), but my prophecy about moving jobs elsewhere has officially happened. Today Boeing announced that they would be opening a second 787 line, but this one would be in South Carolina. Nowhere in this news report about the second line does it say anything about that last strike being one of the reasons for the move, but I'd bet it was the single biggest reason for the decision. South Carolina threw in various tax breaks and such, but I bet in the meetings the upper management held, that strike was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'm a bit sad with the decision. I've been to the Boeing factory where they're assembling the first 787s. I've seen the first several 787s in various stages of construction. It would be cool to see a 787 flying through the air and think, "Yeah, we made that in Everett." No more--we have to share the glory with South Carolina.

But I don't blame Boeing for the decision. Frankly, if I were in upper management there, I would have made the same decision, and for the exact same reason. It was the machinists who lost the 2nd assembly line. Good work, guys. Next time, just do your job and maybe next time they won't go out of state.

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