With US corporations sitting on record profits, US workers seeing their standard of living continue to sink, and governments straining under the weight of budget deficits, one might think that corporations would take a short break from their rapacious behavior. But some deeply engrained habits are tough to quit. Boeing has now set the new standard by extracting $8.7 billion in tax breaks from the state of Washington as a condition to keep production on a new aircraft in the Puget Sound region. This is the largest such subsidy in US history.
But, as reported, this is an old practice for Boeing. A decade ago Boeing received $3.2 billion in tax breaks as an incentive to manufacture the Dreamliner aircraft in Washington State. Boeing still opened up a production facility for the aircraft in South Carolina. Rather than viewing this past violation of trust as a reason to refuse to negotiate with Boeing, Washington legislators probably view it as a potent example of how easy it would be for Boeing to move its production, thus strengthening Boeing’s extortion capabilities.
If all this were not bad enough, at the same time Boeing has given its workers – who are represented by the Machinists union – a take-it-or-leave-it contract that would “require the workers to pay higher health-care premiums, scrap the current pension plan for a defined benefit contribution plan, and put in place a new wage structure. Starting workers would need to be on the job for 16 years before reaching the top pay scale, up from six years in the current contract.”
This is the thanks the workers of Washington State get for providing billions to Boeing in corporate welfare.