Boeing seen in advanced talks to make 777X near Seattle

Mon Nov 4, 2013 5:41pm EST
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By Tim Hepher and Alwyn Scott

(Reuters) - Boeing is in advanced talks with its machinists' union to assemble the company's new 777X jet and build its wings in the Seattle area, several people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

Where the jet should be built is one of the most keenly awaited decisions in global aerospace. Workers at Boeing's commercial base in Washington state are competing with non-unionized workers in southern states where wages are lower. Washington state officials are also working on incentives to keep the work local.

Union officials with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents workers at Boeing's Washington state factories, confirmed that they are talking with the company. Boeing declined to comment.

Under the proposed deal, final assembly of the 777X would be at Boeing's Everett plant near Seattle, home to all its wide-body production except the 787 Dreamliner, whose assembly is split between Everett and North Charleston, South Carolina.

The plane's expansive wings would be built in the surrounding Puget Sound region, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the talks remain confidential.

Talks are "in the final stages, but are not done yet," one source said, adding that the negotiations, which were initiated quietly around a week ago, were "intense."

The timing of the talks suggests Boeing wants to lock in a labor deal before formally launching the 777X, which is expected at the Dubai Airshow that starts on November 17.

Industry sources say there is pressure on all sides to make concessions. Boeing is keen to control costs on its new 777, as it faces competition from the all-new Airbus A350-1000.   Continued...

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young