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Boeing already checking out Washington's competition to build 777X

Boeing wasted little time in making good on its threat to open the 777X bidding to other willing suitors, including Long Beach, Calif., where Boeing has build the C-17. (AP Photo/File)

Boeing wasted little time in making good on its threat to open the 777X bidding to other willing suitors. The company has people on the ground in states around the country exploring its options on where to build the plane.

Boeing isn't just making phone calls to California, Texas, Utah, South Carolina and Alabama. It has sent people to those states to start talking face-to-face about what they can offer the company in exchange for the 777X program.

South Carolina Senator Hugh Leatherman tells KING 5 he's already spoken with Boeing.

"We're extremely interested," he said. "Please give us an opportunity to sit at the negotiating table and let you see what we can do or see what you can do and hopefully get up and have a handshake when it's over."

South Carolina state Rep. Chip Limehouse told a local TV station he thinks the state has a better chance than people think.

"If you look at the top three and analyzed them - Long Beach they have labor problems and other areas have never built an airplane before," he said. "We build airplanes in South Carolina, and they fly. I think we have a big advantage here."

Washington is still in the mix to build the plane, but after Wednesday's resounding rejection of Boeing's contract offer by union Machinists, it might not be at the top of the list.

One Washington lawmaker wants to help change that. Senator Michael Baumgartner has asked the governor to call another special session, this time to discuss making Washington a right-to-work state, meaning workers wouldn't be forced to join a union to work in a union shop.

"We need to do it right now before we lose these good jobs," he said.

And what about the Machinists Union in all of this? How are the members feeling two days after this vote?

Several reached out to KIRO Radio, but didn't want to be identified because they feared reprisals within the union.

One Machinist said it was a very somber day on the factory floor in Everett. The workers were proud to have stood on their principles, but many realize that conviction might have cost them their jobs.

There is also huge displeasure with the union leadership. People are calling for the firing of union president Tom Wroblewski. Some are even thinking it's time to get rid of the International Association of Machinists as the union that represents them.

Several workers told me they were blind-sided by this deal and they don't like how the national organization tried to ram the deal down their throats without any input at the local level. They're upset that President Wroblewski went along with it. He has a few years left on his current term, but several workers told me it would be surprising if he finished it.

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About the Author


Chris Sullivan is a traffic reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He cares deeply about the amount of time you spend sitting in Seattle traffic.

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