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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Triumph got $790,000 in tax breaks from state in last two years

As the strike of machinists at the Triumph Composite Systems facility west of Spokane ended its first week Tuesday with no sign talks will resume soon, union leaders continued to criticize the company for receiving aerospace tax breaks from Washington while moving jobs to Mexico.

Some 400 workers walked off the job last week after rejecting what the company said was its final offer in negotiations for a three-year contract. Leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said they are getting financial support and being joined on the picket lines by members of other unions.

“We are not at the table. I have not heard from the company at all,” Steve Warren, negotiator for IAM Local 86, said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Triumph did not return calls seeking a comment, but the company said in a written statement at the start of the strike that it had submitted its “best and final offer,” which it contends is an “extremely competitive wage and benefit structure.”

Union officials said, however, they were seeking assurances the company will not move jobs now performed at the West Plains factory to facilities in Mexico. Last year, Triumph filed a notice required by federal law that it would permanently lay off 25 workers as of May 11, 2015.

Warren said those workers were laid off and the jobs moved to Mexico, but the Spokane workers were later rehired because the quality of the work in Mexico was not up to strict standards required in the American aerospace industry. Triumph makes panels for Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers.

“Our concern is long-term,” said John Holden, IAM district president. Union officials also say the company should keep jobs in Washington because it is receiving tax breaks the state offers to aerospace companies.

Documents Triumph filed recently with the state Department of Revenue show the company received slightly more than $790,000 in tax breaks in 2015 and 2014, the most recent years available. That involves $703,445 for the two years in reduced business and occupation tax rates the state grants aerospace manufacturers and $86,652 for that period in credits against its business and occupation tax for property and leasehold taxes.

State statutes do not require companies that receive tax incentives to maintain job levels, although some lawmakers proposed legislation to do that in response to job losses at Boeing after the aerospace giant received an extension of tax breaks for the 777X jetliner worth billions of dollars.

Other states have attached so-called “claw-back” provisions to tax incentives, but efforts to add those requirements to Washington law did not come to a vote in this year’s Legislature.