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Boeing’s Retiring Boomers Underscore U.S. Manufacturing Plight

  • Some 10,000 machinists eligible to retire as pensions freeze
  • Worker shortfall looms as millennials shun factory work

John Rothery said his goodbyes, handed in his badge and walked away from Boeing Co. He had worked on almost every commercial jet model over four decades, from a 707 bristling with military radar in the late 1970s to today’s sleek 787 Dreamliner.

The date, Oct. 3, had been circled on Rothery’s calendar for more than a year. It was the last time that Boeing would bump up pension pay for Seattle-area factory workers before it froze the plan at month’s end, provisions dictated by a deeply unpopular 2014 contract extension. For Rothery, it was the final straw.