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A Presidential Visit: Donald Trump Visits Boeing Charleston

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“U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A” echoed throughout the audience of several hundred Boeing employees and onlookers, who received the presidential recognition after the rolling out of the new Boeing 787-10. The 787-10, the largest of three versions of the Boeing “Dreamliner,” is produced exclusively in the Charleston factory. Its customers include airlines such as Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines, both of which placed 30 orders for the aircraft. In his speech, President Trump gave high praise to the state of South Carolina and its leadership. “I love South Carolina. I love it”, said Trump at the end of the speech, receiving a rousing applause from the audience. Trump complimented Governor McMaster for his “incredible job” and also recognized former governor Nikki Haley for her “spectacular job” as the Ambassador to the United Nations. Among his many points, he spoke of rebuilding the military, as he sat in front of a large number of current and retired armed forces. He referenced George Washington in speaking of war preparations, noting that he believed the country requires a large military to be active at any time necessary. Among his other military comments, Trump used the phrase “peace through strength,” often used in the past by President Ronald Reagan. He saluted South Carolina military families and recognized the state’s unique “military tradition and history.” President Trump’s primary speaking points addressed bringing back jobs in America, exemplified in Boeing’s successful construction of the plant and employment of over 3,000 workers. Keith Summey, the mayor of North Charleston, acknowledged the beneficial impact of Boeing in Charleston in place of the shipyard, which lost economic presence in the late 1990s. Trump later thanked the workers who created the 330 passenger plane, and commended the American “dream and build” effort.

 

Trump’s February 17 visit to Boeing coincided with the February 15 union vote in Boeing Charleston, which was most likely Trump’s reason to visit the plant. In the vote, organized labor received a firm rejection by the Boeing employees, solidifying South Carolina’s “right to work” tendencies. The vote polled around 74% voting no, compared to the 26% who wished to be represented by the International Association of Machinists’ Union. Many of the union leaders were disappointed with the results, confident that voting no would continue the suppression of wages and recognition among workers. Joan Robinson-Berry, the vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, assured that the workers “will continue to move forward as a team.” On Friday, when President Trump visited the company, Boeing unveiled the new 787-10, making it perhaps the busiest week in Boeing South Carolina history.

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