Gov. Inslee calls special session; Boeing and Machinists reach deal

OLYMPIA -- Boeing and the Machinists union have reached a tentative deal that ensures Boeing’s newest plane, the 777X, will be built in the Puget Sound region, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday night.

The deal still has to be approved by IMA District 751 union rank-and-file members and state lawmakers since union members and Boeing are slated to get a $10 billion package of tax incentives. but everything points to a deal at hand, officials said.

"Today in Washington state we have decided to step up and design our future rather than to hide from it, and to do this it will take some big, bold decisions in a very short period of time,” Inslee said during a press conference, where he was flanked by a large contingent from Boeing, the union and lawmakers.

All have apparently been working behind closed doors to reach a deal that will ensure the 777X fuselage and wings are built in the Puget Sound region. The deal comes after months of uncertainty and Boeing job cuts in Washington state.  Machinists will be asked to make concessions, including modifications of its traditional pension and health care plans and it will take new hires 16 years to reach top pay instead of the current six years. In exchange, Boeing will guarantee each union member a $10,000 signing bonus and an enhanced retirement package for those 58 and above who are reaching the end of their careers.

"The fact that representatives from Boeing and the union are standing with us today shows the commitment you all have to your industry and to the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

During the press conference, Inslee presented a five-point agenda for the special session that begins Thursday.

First, a transportation revenue package that includes an extension of all commercial airplane tax incentives until 2040 and an expansion of tax exemptions on construction. Inslee also wants investments in education and workforce development to boost enrollment in aerospace fields. Plus, he wants to streamline permitting to speed up development and expansion of facilities at large manufacturing sites and finally he wants to achieve practical water-quality goals.

Inslee hopes to finish the special section within a week. Fortunately, he says, already there is progress with the tentative agreement of the 777X deal.

"This would be an essential step forward in securing the 777X for Washington -- the rightful home of the best airplanes and the best machinists in the world today,” Inslee said.

Union leaders along with Boeing executives attended the governor's news conference but neither side wanted to answer questions. Members will vote on the proposal next week and, if the governor gets his way, lawmakers will finish their work next week as well.