Labor groups in Missouri have been among those expressing support for the legislative effort to bring production of a Boeing commercial airliner to Missouri.
Jeff Aboussie, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades is among those that testified in hearings for both the Senate and House Economic Development committees about legislation proposed by Governor Jay Nixon, that would offer Boeing $150-million in incentives to build the 777X in Missouri.
Nixon earlier in the day announced that St. Louis-area construction labor councils had agreed to a round-the-clock work schedule, without overtime, while a facility is constructed to produce the 777X. Aboussie told lawmakers the building trades groups understood that construction time is of the essence for Boeing, and says that work schedule would benefit the workers those groups represent.
“The building trades proposal was to work an accelerated schedule and take a project that could last up to five years and reduce that time to two years and nine months … that has definitely an economic impact on our region,” Aboussie testified. “Right now we have approximately 25-percent unemployment in the construction trade. We would be putting people back to work, paying taxes, affording homes, sending their kids to schools.”
Mike Lewis, a lobbyist for the Missouri AFL-CIO, addressed concerns by some that there could be an issue for the St. Louis machinists union regarding the Boeing deal. A sister union in the State of Washington rejected pension concessions, prompting Boeing to look outside that state for a site to build the 777X.
Lewis, who represents groups including the International Association of Machinists, told the House committee that after his group learned of the project he contacted the international president of the machinists union.
“Our concern was we didn’t want to get in a bidding war of the machinists union between St. Louis and Seattle,” Lewis said. “They assured us that the package that was offered by Boeing to the Seattle employees was not that much different than what was accepted here in 2012. They told us to go for it. They don’t want to lose this package. They don’t want it to go anywhere else. St. Louis would be a perfect fit and they’re excited about it.”
The House and Senate committees both endorsed the proposal. The Senate will take up the legislation today.