Legislature goes after Boeing tax breaks

Feb 10, 2015, 11:48 AM | Updated: Feb 11, 2015, 11:49 am
Lawmakers are now starting to go after the billions of dollars worth of tax incentives they gave Boeing to secure production of the 777X in Washington. (AP)
(AP)

Lawmakers are going after the billions of dollars worth of tax incentives they gave Boeing to secure production of the 777X in Washington.

They’re trying to tie certain job and wage numbers to that incentive package.

If aerospace companies are going to receive generous tax incentives, they need to pay their employees more. That’s the bottom line of a bill that had its first hearing on Monday.

It would require any aerospace company getting a tax incentive to basically pay all their veteran employees about $20 an hour or what is considered the state’s median wage.

Jon Holden is president of the local Machinists Union, IAM 751, which supports the bill, and he told the House Labor Committee, “The IAM strongly supports this tax incentive and the use of tax incentives to encourage employers to locate here and to create and maintain good aerospace jobs […] We must ensure, though, that those taxpayer investments are being used for just that.”

While the bill is a direct shot at Boeing, it would have a much bigger impact on the hundreds of smaller aerospace companies that provide jobs in Boeing’s supply chain, like Aeroplastics in Renton.

Aeroplastics general manager Mike Brown said his company wouldn’t be able to handle the new requirements. According to Brown, he couldn’t get $20 an hour worth of productivity out of his newest hires.

A lot of his workers are hired right out of trade school and Brown said they don’t have the experience to be paid the rate proposed by the Legislature.

The bill also proposes front office workers and other non-skilled employees to make the same $20 an hour.

Another bill working its way around Olympia would tie actual job numbers to incentives. Lawmakers are upset that Boeing shipped more engineering jobs out of state after passing the incentive package.

In a statement, Boeing said it has added nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington since the incentives were created in 2003. The company called the bill harmful to Washington’s economy.

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Legislature goes after Boeing tax breaks