Governor does nothing while Boeing leaves

September 17th, 2009 by Ken

(The following story was written by Jan Teague, President and CEO of the Washington Retail Association.  It appeared in last week’s edition of  her newsletter WIN)

Two articles have recently been written on a recent exchange between Boeing and the Governor which really don’t say much about the Governor showing strong leadership to keep Boeing in Washington.

The Governor reportedly told the Capitol press corps in a meeting held right after she finished with Boeing leaders that she didn’t expect the unions to press worker privacy legislation in 2010. So Governor Gregoire does seem to have an inside track into the union strategy when it comes to key issues she knows that Boeing cares about.

When reporters asked if the Legislature would offer anything to Boeing to
 keep the 787 production in Washington, she said that Boeing didn’t ask for anything. A few days later the media speculated on why the Governor said that Boeing didn’t ask for anything when Boeing has a list it presented last year.  Boeing put its agenda on the table and it included reforms to unemployment and worker compensation laws.

In this meeting with Boeing, instead of talking about what she knows Boeing cares about, Gregoire tells the press Boeing didn’t ask for anything. Is it necessary to ask or should the Governor make stronger statements that she
understands Boeing’s issues and has a plan of action?

It turns out that right after the Boeing meeting with Governor Gregoire, workers  at Boeing’s South Carolina plant voted to de-unionize.  Since then Governor Gregoire has requested another meeting with Boeing to make the case why Boeing should stay in Washington. But some speculate that the Governor is in a spot since she is strongly aligned with the unions and if she tackles labor issues of interest to Boeing, she could fire up the unions.

Our Board of Directors members at their summer retreat sent a letter to Governor Gregoire asking her to take strong leadership with Boeing and not to wait it out. It takes more than a few promises about providing an educated workforce to persuade Boeing. That is what Gregoire came up with this past session. That is not enough.

When I was recently asked while speaking to the Silverdale Rotary Club what I thought the state should do to keep Boeing, my answer was, “Whatever it takes”.

Boeing is competing in a worldwide marketplace.  The company could not only move  one plane operation out, it could move others anywhere in the world.  Washington State either wants to compete against other offers made to Boeing, or it doesn’t.

It’s that simple.

To say that Boeing didn’t ask for anything misses the point entirely.  In the private sector, offers come every day to business for a more efficient, less costly approach.  It’s unfortunate that we don’t have people leading our state who understand the  massive amount of overtures and wheeling and dealing that goes on every day in business.  Businesses review their options all the time to compete in a fast-changing business world. 

So for the state to compete to keep Boeing, it’s not about waiting around to see what someone might ask for.  It’s about making strong offers that
compete with what others are offering.

What is the highest leader of Washington willing to do when faced with the very real threat of Boeing leaving? Let’s hope that after the Governor’s next meeting with Boeing we read that she has committed to a timeline to address the company’s needs and that a key industry that feeds many of our family members, friends, and businesses will continue to be located

Posted in Business, Government, History, Informational, The Real News

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