Boeing’s DOD Contract a Win for PA, Labor?

By Chris Bowman, Contributing Writer

After a decade of deliberations, lawsuits, millions of dollars spent on lobbying, and two revoked offers, the Department of Defense awarded Boeing the $35 billion contract to build the new aerial refueling tanker. One of the largest contracts awarded in recent years, the planes will be assembled in Washington. However, Pennsylvanian manufacturers will also benefit as Boeing estimates the contract will generate over 400 new jobs and $25 million in economic impact in the Commonwealth.

Boeing already employs nearly 6,000 Pennsylvanians and works with over 800 subsidiary suppliers and manufacturers. Its economic clout and extensive lobbying garnered legislative support from Pennsylvania state lawmakers in the form of SR 379, introduced by Senators Wozniak, Costa, and Fontana on July 2, 2010 and transmitted out of committee in October.

Many pundits have commented that Boeing’s win is also a win for labor. Washington, where Boeing’s assemblage will primarily take place, is much more policy-friendly for unions than its competitors’ proposed location in Alabama. Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, said: “The Pentagon’s decision will result in an American aircraft, built by American workers for America’s warriors…With more than 40,000 U.S. jobs at stake, this decision also significantly strengthens the core of the U.S. aerospace manufacturing industry.”

Contrasting this view of the win for Boeing as a positive for labor is a recently-removed article from Huffington Post that highlights Boeing as a major contributor to the anti-labor Heritage foundation.

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