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Originally published May 4, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Page modified May 5, 2010 at 6:58 PM

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Corrected version

Boeing's Doug Kight moving to a top job at Chicago HQ

Boeing Vice President Doug Kight, a soft-spoken lawyer who took a hard line with the Machinists union last year, is moving into a top job at corporate headquarters in Chicago.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Doug Kight

Early life: Age 53. Born in Seattle, grew up in Ephrata and Wenatchee. Earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Whitman College and a law degree from the University of California's Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

Hired at Boeing: Joined Boeing as an employment lawyer in 1987; rose to become vice president and assistant general counsel at Boeing's corporate headquarters. Led a team of attorneys specializing in employee relations and was on the company negotiating team through two strikes.

Current role: Appointed head of human resources for the commercial-airplanes division in 2006. Led the 2008 contract talks with both the IAM and SPEEA, the former ending in a two-month strike. Also led the failed talks with the IAM in 2009 that led to Boeing's decision to build a second 787 line in Charleston.

New position: Vice president in charge of human-resources strategy, benefits and compensation at Boeing's corporate headquarters in Chicago.

Source: Seattle Times interviews, Boeing

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Boeing Vice President Doug Kight, a soft-spoken lawyer who took a hard line with the Machinists union last year, is moving into a top job at corporate headquarters in Chicago.

The Seattle-born Kight led the company's labor negotiations with the Machinists through a two-month strike in 2008, and last year recommended Boeing pick Charleston, S.C., for a new 787 assembly line.

Kight, 53, head of human resources for the commercial-airplanes unit, next month will become vice president in charge of human-resources strategy, benefits and compensation for the entire company.

The move was announced in an internal e-mail Monday by Senior Vice President Rick Stephens.

Kight "led major 2008 union negotiations, and launched the current effort to establish the first-ever final assembly and delivery center outside Puget Sound," Stephens said in the e-mail to human-resources managers.

Boeing's decision in October to put a second 787 assembly line in Charleston was a result of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) strike in 2008.

Both Kight and Boeing's top leadership in Chicago treated the strike as a final straw, demanding a forceful response that couldn't wait until the next round of regular contract negotiations four years down the road.

The company pressed aggressively in 2009 for an IAM commitment to end the use of strikes.

In talks led by Kight, Boeing intially asked for a 20-year no-strike deal, later reduced in negotiations to a demand for a 10-year deal. Boeing also demanded limits on wages and benefits awarded over that period. It made clear to local politicians as well as union leaders that future assembly lines in this region were at stake.

After Boeing's deadline expired without agreement, Kight's recommendation was carried to Chicago, and the Boeing board chose Charleston over Everett for the second 787 line.

The union accused the company of bad faith, citing a conversation the previous February when Boeing Senior Vice President Tim Keating told U.S. Sen. Patty Murray the company's top leadership was "sick and tired" of the union's history of strikes, and was "looking elsewhere" to put the second 787 line.

In an interview after Charleston was chosen, Kight described the decision as "an emotional issue, a tough issue," but one necessary to protect Boeing's commitments to its customers.

He lamented that an opportunity was lost for "a paradigm shift in how we work together" with the union.

A 23-year Boeing veteran, Kight joined the company as a lawyer. He was at the negotiating table in 2000 when Boeing's engineering union went on strike and again in 2005 when the IAM struck for 30 days.

Kight will be replaced as head of human resources at the commercial-airplanes unit by Julie-Ellen Acosta, who has been heading a unit responsible for leadership training of managers.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              206-464-2963      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              206-464-2963      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              206-464-2963      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              206-464-2963      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or dgates@seattletimes.com

The original version of this story published May 4, said Boeing demanded a 20-year no-strike deal from the Machinists union in 2009. That was the initial Boeing bargaining position. During negotiations, the company reduced its demand to a 10-year deal. This article was corrected on May 5, 2010.

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