Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Boeing's South Carolina workers make $10 less per hour than those in Everett

Boeing employees in the company's South Carolina facility make an average of $10 less per hour than similar employees in the company's Everett plant.

The company recently released that information to a South Carolina newspaper ahead of a vote over whether the Machinists at the North Charleston 787 Dreamliner plant should unionize.

A decision to unionize could have a large impact on where Boeing (NYSE: BA) decides to locate future facilities. The vote is April 22.

The average wage for North Charleston production and maintenance workers is $20.59 per hour, or $42,827 a year. In Everett, workers averaged $30.67 an hour last August, which will rise to $32.05 in September, according to Machinists spokeswoman Connie Kelliher.

While the cost of living in Western Washington is higher, a CNN cost-of-living calculator shows it's only about 6 percent more expensive to live in Everett than in the Charleston-North Charleston area.

As of this fall, South Carolina workers will have received a 18.9 percent increase in pay over the past three years, bringing them to an average of $43,659. With benefits, that's an $80,000 per worker package, Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, told the Charleston Courier.

“When you compare that, either on average or with the aerospace industry in this area, it’s an impressive package and it’s consistent with the Boeing strategy,” said Wyse. “We not only make sure that we’re paying excellent wages, but we really also focus heavily on the benefits that we offer.”

Jon Holden, president of Machinists District Lodge 751, told me in a March 25 interview that a union win will give workers more ability to influence their the standard of living for themselves, their families and their community.

“We believe having a union gives [workers] those rights under federal law,” he said. “We absolutely encourage them to vote for the union.”

Boeing did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Wyse argued the Boeing wages are competitive.

“Ensuring that we have competitive wages is critical,” she said. “Nobody should want to be working in an area where your wages are being paid well above the market or are non-competitive.

(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)

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