Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Boeing awards event
August 8, 2000
Thank you, Carver, for that very kind introduction.
I am very proud to be here today to honor the hard-working counseling staff who have provided high quality reemployment services to laid off Boeing workers. You have done some amazing work for thousands of Boeing workers.
You have invented the wheel for dealing with economic transitions in our society. Because of your diligence and hard work, what could have been a disaster for thousands of Washington citizens and their families has turned into a real opportunity. An opportunity not only for those workers and their families, but also an opportunity for the economy of the state of Washington.
The layoffs at Boeing within the last two years are the largest layoffs in recent state history, totaling about 15,000. But because of your diligence and hard work, thousands of skilled workers are making the transition from one high-skilled, high-wage field to other high-skill, high-wage fields.
Almost a third of those workers have successfully entered retraining - a very high participation rate. And because these individuals are learning new skills, our economy will be stronger.
About 70 to 80 percent of the dislocated Boeing worker are entering the field of information technology -- an industry that is facing an extreme skill gap. Today there are thousands of vacancies in information technology that could hold back this vital industry and result in Washington companies losing market share to other states and countries.
Now, this gap will be filled with several thousand Boeing workers with new skills and a proven work record. This is the kind of economic transition we need in our country. But, unfortunately, this is not the norm in our country today. People who lose their jobs in traditional industries are not getting the fast-growing, high-paying jobs.
Here in the U.S., the average dislocated worker is only able to reclaim 80 percent of their previous wages when they find their next job. And for a majority of these folks, their incomes decline even more three years after the dislocation.
What made the difference here in Washington? You did.
First of all, through the hard work of both the IAM and the Boeing Corporation, we were able to pass legislation that created the nation's first extended unemployment benefits law for all dislocated workers in retraining. Now, any dislocated worker can continue to collect unemployment benefits while he or she goes back to school to learn new skills.
It is intimidating enough to go back to school in the middle of your career without having to worry about losing your home or your car, or worse yet, not being able to pay for college for your own kids.
Now, we have a solution.
Special thanks go out to Bill Johnson and Linda Lanham of the International Association of Machinists Lodge 751 for making this happen. Thanks also to Al Ralston of Boeing, who worked with my administration, the Legislature and the machinists to get the legislation passed. While I only signed this legislation into law a few months ago, 4,500 dislocated workers already have signed up for the program.
Thanks also go out to the Boeing Quality-Through-Training Program, the nation's best business/labor training partnership. This team carefully thought through and managed the needs of all of the workers affected by the layoffs.
Thanks to the hard work of Jim Dagnon at the Boeing Company, John McGinnis and Bill Johnson of the Machinist unions and Charles Bofferding of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). You made this transition an opportunity, not a problem, for thousands of workers.
I also need to thank Carver and his Employment and Training Director Gary Gallwas for the hundreds of late night hours they have put into this project.
Also, working as partners with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Labor Management Committee and the state, we were able to overcome barriers and make sure workers in retraining could get the income support they needed to complete the program.
Today in our audience we are honored to have with us some real stars who have completed their retraining and are making their dreams a reality.
Rochelle is a single mom who was laid off after 14 years at Boeing. She attended Edmonds Community College and completed her coursework with a 3.7 grade point average. She is now working as an equipment forecast analyst and making more than her previous salary.
Alfredo was laid off in April of 1999. Within 10 months, he has earned his Microsoft A++ certification and software test engineer certificate and just started a new job last March.
Linda was laid off in March and went to North Seattle Community College, studying heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Linda has gone to work as a project engineer and is continuing her education.
Manuela was laid off from her job in power plant assembly in April 1999. She went to Tacoma Community College to study computer information management systems. She graduated with a 3.98 grade point average and perfect attendance.
She also volunteered, while in school, to help other students, and she received the outstanding student award for achievement in computer information systems for the year 2000. She plans to graduate this December with two associate of science degrees in programming and web development.
These people show that vision can become a reality. If it can happen for them, it can happen for others as well.
This is a model for how economic transitions should occur for working families. And thank you so much for inventing a new wheel to overcome economic transitions in our society. What you've invented should be the national standard for helping working families respond to economic transitions.
Thank you very much for caring for your fellow workers and keeping their futures bright.