Boeing has shuttered the gym near Boeing Field that employees — even CEO Muilenburg — enjoyed for decades. Also: Zillow pays for CEO Rascoff to commute Seattle by private jet from his new LA mansion, and the prizewinning design for a Denny Triangle high-rise won’t get built.
Boeing’s cost cutting is slashing perks for local workers, as well as jobs. The latest blow to Seattle employees came Friday, when it closed a massive and beloved gym that once was even a haunt of Dennis Muilenburg, now the company’s Chicago-based CEO.
The gym, on the bank of the Duwamish River near Boeing Field, was heavily used by current and former employees.
“I played basketball with Muilenburg there in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” said Boeing retiree Joe Slepski, a former manager on the defense side of the company, after playing a lunchtime game at the facility Tuesday. “One year, we even won a championship.”
That was when Muilenburg was an up-and-coming engineering manager on Boeing defense programs here and played in one of the all-Boeing recreational leagues.
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“There was a mix of employees: managers, engineers, line workers, union people, people from commercial or defense and space,” said Slepski. “Different people from all over the company played basketball and got to know one another. There was great camaraderie across Boeing.”
About 2,200 employees were paid-up members at the Oxbow Activity Center, 66,000 square feet of space built in 1987 on a bend in the Duwamish.
Boeing leases the land from the Desimone Trust, which represents the heirs of Joe Desimone, the original Italian-born owner of Pike Place Market. Desimone bought and drained swamplands along the Duwamish to create fertile farmland that in time gave way to Boeing’s industrial needs.
The Oxbow facility, accessible only to Boeing employees and retirees, boasts two full-size basketball courts, a running track, a big aerobics room, a weight room and locker rooms with about two dozen showers.
Joe Ellsworth, a Boeing patent attorney who has used the facility for 16 years, said the closure has left the regulars disconsolate.
“It’s one of the best gyms in Seattle,” he said Tuesday. “It’s like a funeral over there.”
He plays basketball or pickleball on weekday lunchtimes and plays in a Boeing volleyball league in the evening.
“On the surface, Boeing is big into health and fitness,” said Ellsworth. “In practice, it seems it costs too much.”
A statement posted in February on a website for retired members of Boeing’s engineering union — the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) — gives the company’s rationale for closing the gym:
“Boeing is making strategic decisions to vacate leased property,” the document states. “Boeing looked at creating a smaller fitness facility on company property. However, the cost of building…