Speaker Harrell says he, Senator talked to Boeing Thursday

SEATTLE (AP/WCIV) -- Boeing machinists in the Northwest have rejected a contentious contract proposal that would have exchanged concessions for decades of secure jobs.

That vote was bad for Washington State and good for South Carolina, according to House Speaker Bobby Harrell. Harrell said that he believes North Charleston will now become a major player in landing the project.{}

He said both he and state Sen. Hugh Leatherman spoke with Boeing representatives on Thursday.

"We are absolutely in the mix, but it will be very competitive unlike the battle for the Dreamliner when it was just South Carolina and Washington State," Harrell said. "Boeing is very happy with the workforce we have here in South Carolina and now we have to figure out what they need and figure out what we can do to get there."

With a failed deal in Seattle and talks picking up in South Carolina, it seems like the West Coast side of Boeing may not have a chance to renegotiate in 2016, when the current labor contract runs out.

"We are very disappointed in the outcome of the union vote. Our goal was two-fold: to enable the 777X and its new composite wing to be produced in Puget Sound and to create a competitive structure to ensure that we continue market-leading pay, health care and retirement benefits while preserving jobs and our industrial base here in the region," Boeing officials said Thursday.

"But without the terms of this contract extension, we're left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X. I'd like to thank Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington state legislature for all their efforts in this process. We had hoped for a different outcome."

The International Association of Machinists District 751 announced Wednesday night that the proposal was rejected by 67 percent of the votes. Some union members had called for a no vote, protesting Boeing Co.'s push to end a traditional pension plan and increase their health care costs. Workers would have received a $10,000 signing bonus if they approved the deal.

Boeing had proposed the eight-year contract extension, saying it needs the deal to assemble the new 777X in Washington state. With the threat of those jobs going to another state, lawmakers rushed to approve $8.7 billion in tax breaks last week.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes issued a statement from President and CEO Ray Conner after the long-term contract extension was voted down by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers District 751.

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