Boeing's Expansion Quickly Turning Charleston Into an Aerospace Hub

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Zillow

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 22 at 12:00 PM

There may be more than 22,000 Boeing workers in Everett, Renton and other Western Washington locations, but the long-term sustainability of that job market continues to hamper contract negotiations between the company and its engineering and technical workers.

Now Boeing will have to answer questions about violating federal labor law during recent contract talks with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

Despite a ratified contract between Boeing and SPEEA, a hearing has been set for Aug. 6 in Seattle where an administrative law judge will hear complaints filed by the union charging that Boeing threatened union members with disciplinary action if the union discussed potential layoffs.

The continued strife comes as Boeing just announced a $1 billion investment in its South Carolina plant, where the manufacture of Boeing Dreamliner aircraft has helped turned the Charleston region into the newest hub for aerospace industry. A right-to-work state, South Carolina has staked its claim in Boeing’s future by offering an alternative to rising payroll and benefits costs.

South Carolina has provided $120 million in incentives. Boeing’s North Charleston manufacturing complex now has about 6,000 workers, with another 2,000 jobs to be added in Boeing’s new expansion plan. And while battery problems have dealt Boeing a setback in delivering the 787 jumbo jet, South Carolina delivered the first Dreamliner a year ago which is about five years after Puget Sound Boeing unions went on strike and helped seal Boeing’s relocation plan to the Palmetto State.

Last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley hosted the SpeedNews Aerospace Manufacturing Conference.

“Boeing is now a part of the fabric of South Carolina. So this is family and when family does well, we all get excited,” Gov. Haley said.

According to the Charleston Post & Courier, the conference was another opportunity for the North Charleston Boeing plant to demonstrate how it could turn into a magnet for attracting support businesses for the aerospace industry, including everything from logistics and automation to composites and other cutting-edge materials in what some in the region are beginning to call “the Boeing Corridor.”

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