Political leaders, including many Democrats who are closely aligned with unionized workers, declined in recent days to influence machinists' votes but asked them to consider the broader impact on jobs and future generations. Lawmakers in Washington state hurried through a massive extension of tax breaks — valued at nearly $9 billion — along with money to improve worker training and permitting programs.
Republican state Sen. Mike Hewitt said the dynamics at Boeing have changed over the years from a corporate structure filled with Washington residents to leaders who no longer have ties to the state.
"The thought processes are different than 10 or 12 years ago when Boeing was a Washington state company," Hewitt said.
Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Utah governor's Office of Economic Development, said Gov. Herbert received a call from Boeing officials Thursday afternoon and has begun preliminary discussions with Boeing leaders on the 777X line.
Boeing has had operations in Utah for 25 years, and is getting close to opening a new 850,000- square-foot factory in a Salt Lake City suburb. The company employs 575 people and is expecting to hire 100 more at the new West Jordan factory.
The long-range, twin-aisle 777 holds about 365 passengers, making it Boeing's second-biggest plane. Since its first flight in 1994, it's been a best-seller for Boeing, which has sold more 777s than any of its other current large planes.
In May, it began offering the revamped 777X. Boeing is still finalizing plans for the plane, but it has said it is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and to be 20 percent more fuel efficient than the current 777.
Instead of the current all-aluminum wing, the 777X wing is expected to be made from composites, the same high-tech plastic that makes up most of Boeing's new 787. Boeing is aiming to deliver the first 777X by the end of this decade.
The 777X is meant to compete with the new Airbus A350, which is undergoing flight testing now. It's also going to compete with Boeing's slightly larger 747-8 Intercontinental, which has seen sluggish sales even before the 777X has been formally launched.