Last week the Legislature in Olympia wrapped up its special session on Tuesday without having voted on the Boeing bills that Gov. Gary Locke so ardently wanted to pass. So he called them back for a one-day special session to pass some tax breaks for Boeing. Naturally, with their leader having deserted them, the House Democrats caved in again and gave Gov. Bend-Over-For-Boeing everything he asked for and more.
The only thing worse than Locke’s traitorous pimping is the way Seattle newspapers reported it: as if Boeing’s whole 7E7 project hinges on our giving away the store. The most surreal experience of all was opening the Sunday, June 15 issue of The Seattle Times to see a nearly full-page, front-page spread on the 7E7. The story continued to several inside pages, where the poor, unfortunate reporters assigned to write on this dismal topic were forced to tackle such non-stories as “Will it ever be built?” and “Airline customers aren’t exactly lining up to place orders.” Well, duhhh.
So what did the Legislature serve to Boeing on a platter? Merely the biggest package of tax breaks this state has ever given to a single company. Boeing will get $3.2 billion in direct tax cuts over the next 20 years. In addition, changes made to the state’s Unemployment Insurance plan will save Boeing $5 to $7 million per year, at the direct expense of all workers who claim Unemployment, who will now receive only 26 weeks of benefits, instead of 30. The biggest losers will be seasonal workers: the folks who build the homes we live in, the people who pave our roads, and the families who pick, sort, and pack the food that fills our refrigerators.
As if that weren’t enough, the Legislature also made changes to the Worker’s Compensation system to limit claims for hearing loss; Boeing’s notoriously noisy factories will benefit the most from this change.
Add the $16 million for a new port facility in Everett, combined with an exemption from shoreline rules so it can be built quickly, and it becomes obvious that Boeing can still write it’s own meal ticket in Olympia.
How did Boeing celebrate this good news? By announcing that the company will lay off 266 more workers and send their jobs to Chile. Notably, the new port facility is being built to increase the size of containers that can be shipped through Everett, so Boeing will be able to ship in ever larger, pre-assembled airline parts from the Far East. That will mean more jobs for Japan and China, not for us.
More than 50,000 Boeing jobs have been lost in the Puget Sound, and most of those have gone overseas. Gov. Locke has admitted that the new 7E7 plant would only provide 17,000 jobs in the region, and only if Boeing uses a lot of local contractors (hah!). As The Seattle Times points out, Boeing has been forced to abandon its previous three “new” airplane designs, including the much-praised Sonic Cruiser, without even building a prototype, much less a new factory.
Right now, the airline industry is in such a tailspin that new orders for the 7E7 will be harder to find than liberal values in our so-called “Democratic” governor.