CHICAGO ( TheStreet) - Boeing ( BA) and its employees were reaping the benefits of a new labor contract and increased commercial aircraft production on Friday. Boeing shares closed at $71.93, up $1.76. Shares in Boeing are up 8% for the year, while the S&P 500 is flat on a price basis.
The stock got a lift partly because the National Labor Relations Board dropped its challenge to Boeing's plan to move some 787 Dreamliner production to Charleston, S.C. from Everett, Wash. on Friday. The move came after the International Association of Machinists dropped the complaint that triggered the challenge, an outcome of successful labor negotiations with the International Association of Machinists. A four-year contract with the union, which represents 31,000 Boeing workers was overwhelmingly ratified on Wednesday. The NLRB case had been a cause célèbre for anti-labor politicians and bloggers, who charged that the government was trying to tell Boeing where to build plants, when in reality the case was about an alleged violation of labor law, which prohibits moving work in retaliation for strikes. Republicans cheered the news on Friday. "This case was never about the union or the NLRB telling Boeing where it could put its plants," said Lafe Solomon, NLRB acting general counsel, in a conference call with reporters, according to the Associated Press. "This was a question for us of retaliation, and that remains the law. If we were ever faced with a similar pattern, we might well issue a complaint." Also Friday, Boeing announced it would build a newly expanded Everett delivery center, tripling the amount of office, conference and delivery space in the center, which serves as a hub for delivering 747, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Groundbreaking is expecting early in 2012, with completion in 2013. As part of the contract negotiations, Boeing agreed to locate work on the 737 MAX in the Puget Sound area. The Everett expansion reflects continuing growth in other Boeing programs. "With production rates increasing across all airplane programs, we expect deliveries in record numbers for years to come," said Jeff Klemann, vice president of the delivery center, in a prepared statement. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.