Machinists reach tentative deal with Boeing

By Sam Hananel

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 30 2011 3:26 p.m. MST

Boeing is building its new 787 in Washington state, but opened a second — non-union — assembly line in Charleston. The NLRB complaint arose because it said Boeing opened the second plant to avoid legal union strikes in Washington.

Boeing appeared to be considering a similar move for an updated 737 it plans to build. Those planes are built in Renton, Wash., now, but Boeing said in July it was studying other locations in addition to Renton for the new 737.

Boeing said on Wednesday that it will make the 737 with the new engine in Renton if workers ratify the new contract.

Haley had insisted that GOP presidential candidates talk about the issue as they courted voters in South Carolina, the first-in-the-South primary state. Candidates slugged away at it early and often. Mitt Romney took an early swing in May as made his first pre-campaign stop and laid the blame Obama's feet.

"How in the world can the president justify the federal government taking power from South Carolina and not allowing South Carolina to compete on a fair and level playing field," Romney said. "It's simply inexcusable."

South Carolina's unemployment rate — 10.5 percent in October — has been among the highest in the nation. The Boeing issue gave presidential hopefuls room to talk about something other than that in a state the GOP has firmly controlled since 2002.

After being stung by Boeing's decision to move its headquarters to Chicago a decade ago and by the decision to open the South Carolina plant, politicians in Washington state welcomed the notion of building the 737 MAX in Renton.

Gov. Chris Gregoire commended Boeing and the union for an agreement that "shows a strong commitment by both sides to secure the future of aerospace in Washington state."

"Washington state is, and will continue to be, the world's premier center for aerospace known for building the safest and most innovative planes," she said in a statement. "In the last few years, I'm proud that Washington state has landed the 787, the Air Force refueling tanker, and now the 737 MAX."

Hananel reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Joshua Freed in Minneapolis and Jim Davenport in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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