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Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in the news

October 28, 2009 - Steve Murch
If you'll recall several years ago Alpena attempted to win the bid for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner plant. It was a pipedream at best, but it was one Alpena was right to dream about and try to achieve. If you have any doubts, ask someone on the unemployment line if they would like a shot at working for a major manufacturer.

The bid went to Everett, Wash., which anyone who knew even the slightest about the process would tell you that was going to happen. Washington's incentive package was better than Michigan's and the rumors inside and outside the industry were that Boeing was using the bid process to milk Washington for all it was worth.

Well now Boeing and the 787 are in news again. It appears the company is at the very least using South Carolina as a bargaining chip with the union, but more likely it is going to build a second production line, this time in Charleston, S.C. According to the Seattle Times, talks between Boeing and the Machinists union have broken down at the same time the South Carolina Legislature is considering a package that will include $170 million in upfront grants for startup costs and tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks if Boeing would choose Charleston, though the legislation doesn't specifically name Boeing.

According to the Times, “The proposed legislation assumes the company will invest $750 million and create 3,800 new jobs in South Carolina within seven years — if it doesn't create that many jobs, it doesn't get any of the money.”

How's that for job creation incentive? If you create all those jobs you get the money, if you don't create them you don't get the money.

"That provision would not have been made up," Otis Rawl, chief executive of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, told the Times on Tuesday. "That came from the entity that's looking at the state. It's the number they anticipate creating."

In other words, those numbers came from Boeing.

In his column Wednesday, Times columnist Danny Westneat writes that the average line worker building the fuselage of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in a Charleston, S.C., plant makes $14 an hour. The average wage at the Everett plant is $28 an hour. Of course there are differences in time of service that those workers have, but that is a hefty wage decrease. Still, $14 an hour would be welcome to many people in Northeast Michigan.

If you remember, there were 13,400 people looking for work in the 11-county area in September, which was 14.2 percent unemployed in Northeast Michigan. How nice would it be to have 3,800 new employees in the area over the next seven years?


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