A Seattle-area Boeing Co. plant President Barack Obama is set to visit was at the center of a battle over a plan to open a non-union plant in South Carolina.
The White House says Obama's visit Friday to the unionized plant in Everett, Wash., will focus on how his proposed 2013 budget will help expand the economy "based on American manufacturing and the importance of promoting American exports."
Obama was to tour the Boeing plant at 11:05 a.m. PST and deliver remarks at 11:25 a.m., the White House said.
The aerospace giant "is doing a lot of business overseas," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday.
"That's very good for Boeing -- it's very good for American manufacturing, American exports," Carney said. "And the president will certainly highlight that."
Boeing was the focus of a politically charged National Labor Relations Board complaint by the machinists' union last year, claiming the company's decision to build a $750 million plant in South Carolina constituted illegal retaliation against Washington state machinists for exercising their right to strike.
The NLRB decision to ask Boeing to move the production line to Washington state was denounced by South Carolina officials and Republican presidential hopefuls, who said the board had no authority to tell companies where to build plants.
Obama said he didn't influence the NLRB's action, but said Boeing's initial decision defied common sense.
The union dropped the lawsuit after Boeing agreed to put the manufacturing work at its plant in Renton, Wash., a decision GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney blamed on pro-union Obama "stooges" on the NLRB.
On Nov. 30, 2011, after decades of bitter relations, Boeing and the machinists' union announced a far-reaching four-year contract extension that would raise wages, improve pensions and add thousands of assembly jobs in Washington state to build an updated version of its 737 jet, the best-selling jet airliner in aviation history.
Some observers said they saw a bit of gloating in Obama's Boeing visit.
"It is a victory lap [for Obama] in the sense that a voluntary settlement was reached," Clark University industrial relations Professor Gary Chaison told The Washington Times.
"The Boeing plant is of tremendous symbolic importance," Chaison said. "He's more or less saying, 'It's OK, it's a good deal."
Air Force One, the plane carrying the president, is a specifically configured, highly customized Boeing 747.