The Seattle area has seen unusually heavy snowfall over the past week – 20.2 official inches of snow over six days. The heavy precipitation has closed local roads and freeways, caused widespread power outages, and generally raised havoc in an area that doesn’t normally receive noteworthy levels of snow. This is the most snowfall seen in Seattle for the month of February since 1916, and we are just half way through the month.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA) ever-increasing flight volumes leave little room for weather delays. To contrast with the City of Seattle, which keeps just 35 snow plows on hand for the entire city, Sea-Tac Airport has more than 45 pieces of major snow-removal equipment, including:
Nine plow and broom combination units – state-of-the-art trucks with a 24-foot plow that’s as long as a semitruck
Two friction testers to measure stopping distance for the runways
Seven high-speed plows
Four de-icing trucks for roadways (three 75’ wide booms, one 45’ boom)
Additional sand, plow, and chemical trucks dedicated for landside maintenance
Pickup trucks with sanders and plows
Five snow blowers
10 high-speed brooms
Walk-behind snow blowers
Lots of snow shovels and brooms and team members ready to work
This week I was able to ride along with airport operations and see what it takes to keep operations at the airport moving.
Is Boeing threatening to move jobs out of Washington State unless their labor union commits to a no-strike clause in the next contract? I was waiting for a bit more information on the reports of Boeing’s ultimatum to their Washington machinists’ union before blogging about it, but details have not been forthcoming since U.S. Representative Norm Dicks from Washington broke the story a couple of weeks ago:
“The whole thing comes down to, can they get a long-term agreement with the union, with a no-strike clause. That’s what ultimately has to happen here in the next two or three or four months — or they are going to go elsewhere. I think if they get this agreement, they would stay.”
The no-strike clause rumor comes in the wake of Boeing’s purchase of a 787 rear fuselage production plant in South Carolina – prompting concerns that Boeing will move more of its production out of the Everett and Renton, Washington plants.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO District 751, who represents Boeing’s machinists in the Pacific Northwest, issued a statement assuring members that no proposal on a no-strike clause had been presented by Boeing. They also expressed disappointment with Boeing allowing rumors to spread this way: “To use politicians as microphones to deliver a message, creates problems and does nothing to improve the relationship [between Boeing and the Machinists’ Union].” That being said, the union asserts that they will look at any possible routes to keeping jobs in the state.
Washington State greatly benefits from the two large Boeing plants, and I’m sure residents would hate to see more Boeing jobs go out of state. Boeing has also been hemorrhaging money in the delayed production of the Dreamliner Boeing 787, so I can understand their desire to avoid costly strikes that could cause further delays. Boeing’s method of self-preservation, however, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and I tend to feel for the union’s dismay over having all this leaked to the media before sitting down with labor. It will be interesting to see how negotiations pan out, and how strong public opinion will play a part.