Boeing's move to South Carolina cuts 787's costs, but risks labor turbulence


As I posted, Boeing (BA) is opening a plant in South Carolina to help build its 787 Dreamliner -- the up to 330-passenger aircraft whose scheduled delivery date has been delayed six times. BusinessWeek reports that Boeing is investing $750 million in that plant and expects to pay the workers there $15 an hour, 42% less than its unionized Washington state workers get. With 850 Dreamliner orders worth $110 billion on the books, Boeing can hardly afford more problems with this plane. Is this move by the company short-sighted?

The answer depends on whether Boeing can train those South Carolina workers to do what those in Washington can. Lately, things haven't worked out so well for Boeing in its relationship with those Washington workers. About a year ago, Boeing's 27,000-member machinists union there went on strike for 57 days, which contributed to one of those six 787 delays and cost the company $2 billion.