EVERETT—In choosing South Carolina, Boeing is going to a state that shares little in common with Washington.
In South Carolina workers don't have to join unions - and can be fired for any reason. They also make less. The Seattle Times reports the average wage was $14 an hour compared to $26 for machinists in Everett. $168,000 less there.
In 2003, our state passed more than $3 billion in tax breaks to keep the first 787 line here, but South Carolina's package would allow a company like Boeing build using a lower interest rate and pay no sales tax on materials. They also would pay little corporate income taxes for 10 years.
So what went wrong? Why did Boeing bail out of Western Washington for it's second assembly line?
Within minutes of an announcement, everyone from union members, to lawmakers to industry experts was pointing fingers and predicting dark days.
"I think it's a huge mistake," says 751 Machinist Union Member John Schofield.
"Do you think this is the beginning of the end for Boeing here in Washington?" I ask Scott Hamilton,an aviation specialist whose office is in Sammamish.
"It could be," he says. "Boeing is already a shadow of its former self. "
Hamilton says Boeing has had one foot out the door for years, moving its headquarters to Chicago in 2001, down sizing Renton, and shopping in other states.
"We didn't do what we needed to do and this is a wake up call that we've seen coming."
State Representative Cary Condatta says, for years, Washington lawmakers have been raising workers compensations, hurting the business climate - not just for boeing - but all business statewide.
"We get more expensive on payroll tax, on minimum wage, B&O tax that makes Washington a very difficult place to do business."
The governor argues lawmakers already dolled out more than 3 billion in incentives a few years ago -and they can't afford more, but Hamilton says in today's competitive climate:
"Times and circumstances have changed," he says.
And he says getting a no-strike deal from local unions was a top priority for Boeing - an area where lawmakers had their hands tied.
"So what is the alternative for the governor?" says Hamilton. "To call a special session by the legislature and have a resolution that says come to an agreement and don't strike? Sorry that wouldn't have done a lot of good."
Everyone agrees now: they will have to work even harder, to keep boeing from taking flight for good.
"I hope we take action so that we do not see further deterioration," says Condatta, "we cant afford it."