Boeing Workers Rejoice At Victory Rally

By:  Rick Price

EVERETT, Wash. —

Boeing workers and the members of Congress who worked for years trying to win the Air Force tanker contract gathered for what they called a "victory rally” on Friday.

Among those who spoke or attended the rally at the company’s Everett plant were Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Representatives Jay Inslee and Dave Reichert, labor leaders, Boeing employees, company President Jim McNerney and President of Commercial Airplanes, Jim Albaugh.

WATCH IT: Cheers, Smiles At Celebration  UNCUT: CEO McNerney Congratulates Workers  SLIDESHOW:  Boeing Wins Tanker Contract

More than 300 employees attended the rally to celebrate the win.

Mechanic Joseph Goldman has only worked for Boeing for three years, but he said he is as excited as a lifelong employee.

“To be part of a wave going into Boeing, it's really nice to know that I'm looking forward to a great career,” said Goldman.

Dennis McDonald is on the other end of the spectrum.   He's retiring in a few months, after more than two decades at Boeing.

“It's great.  It feels like the company's in good hands and it's going to be for a long time to come,” said McDonald.

The new deal could create as many as 11,000 jobs over at least 10 years.

The Air Force's announcement on Thursday that it chose Boeing's 767-based tanker design came as a surprise to analysts and even the company.

Conventional wisdom was expecting a decision in favor of the European offering from EADS, based on the Airbus A-330.

After nearly 10 years of stops, restarts and a contract award to the rival team, the good news traveled fast inside the Everett Boeing plant.

“We were going through the building, and we heard a bunch of people clapping, and we knew that the word was supposed to come out today, so the e-mails and the instant messages started flowing through the company and the factory,” said Boeing employee Matt Murphy.

On Thursday, workers poured out of Boeing's Everett plant honking their car horns, waving and giving reporters the thumbs-up.

"It's a very great feeling," Boeing worker David Mullenbach said.

Boeing has said the $35 billion tanker contract would mean 50,000 jobs, many of them in Washington.

Senator Maria Cantwell was at the KIRO 7 Eyewitness News studio and said the deal not only will bring jobs and money to Washington, but it is great news for the nation’s economic future.

“We have 100,000 people who work in this industry, and provide parts we didn't want to migrate overseas, so there's a lot more at stake to have U.S. jobs here and have continued excellence in the Northwest,” said Cantwell.

The Pentagon said Boeing was the clear winner, based on price.

EADS still has time to appeal the decision, but Air Force officials said there are no grounds for such an appeal.