Boeing officially open for business
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --Under the scorching heat of the South Carolina sun, Boeing celebrated the opening of its first final assembly facility outside Puget Sound.
Just after 11 a.m. a row of sweat-covered lawmakers and Boeing employees cut the ribbon -- officially opening the new 787-production facility.
As the doors to the facility opened and the cool air hit a crowd of onlookers, hundreds poured in to check out the new digs.
The facility's opening brings the company's largest open span of any building -- 464 feet between columns. The size of over 10 football fields, the 787 facility is expected to produce at least three airplanes per month.
"We can't wait to see those mac daddy planes come out of here," said South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
But the celebration could not escape a lingering cloud. It's hard to believe anything could take down the mammoth building -- 1.2 million square feet, equipment bigger than the workers.
But that's the threat.
The opening comes amid controversy. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to plead a case, saying the new facility takes away work from those in Seattle.
Vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, Jack Jones says the claims are myth. As the ribbon was cut on Friday, he said he wanted everyone to know that Boeing is open for business.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says he's not worried.
"We just don't see this as any issue," Summey said. "We think it's a non-issue. We're working with Boeing anyway we can to move forward."
"We're just having positive thoughts of getting the jobs in, moving forward and deal with those things as they come along. But, we think at the end of the day, it will go away."
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham says the lawsuit is politically motivated.
"The NLRB is stacked with union stooges quite frankly," he said.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson echoed remarks by Graham. On Thursday, Wilson co-authored an argument against the suit that was signed by AGs from 15 other states.
"We're prepared to fight this to the highest court if necessary," Wilson said. "They are out of line and this is clearly no legal precedent for this action."
So what happens next?
Major pieces of the planes will arrive at the plant in the next month. Their arrival will mark the official launch of the assembly line. The NLRB lawsuit -- A congressional hearing is scheduled for Friday, June 17.