Boeing Plant Targeted Again for Union Organizing by Machinists

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By Tyrone Richardson

The International Association of Machinists is making another attempt to unionize some workers at the Boeing Co.'s manufacturing campus in South Carolina, the company announced March 5.

The IAM filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to represent a small group of workers described by the company as “flight line” workers. It was not immediately known how many workers are part of the group, which the company characterized as a “micro-unit” within the North Charleston campus.

The Chicago-based plane manufacturer March 5 cautioned that it will challenge the IAM’s latest filing.

“This union refuses to hear the clear message our team has voiced repeatedly,” Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, said in a statement. “Now they want to pit our teammates directly against each other. The company will challenge this filing because we strongly believe that the IAM’s attempt to isolate our flight line teammates is unreasonable and is prohibited by federal law.”

A spokesman for the IAM was not immediately available for comment.

This marks the IAM’s third attempt to organize some workers at the North Charleston campus, which is tasked with production of the company’s 787 Dreamliner. The 787 is a commercial airliner that also is assembled at an IAM-represented plant in Everett, Wash.

Boeing reported employing about 7,500 workers at the North Charleston plant in 2016. The company reduced staff by about 200 workers in 2017 in response to growing competition from Airbus and other manufacturers, according to published reports.

The IAM has dubbed the North Charleston facility a key piece of its plan to organize aerospace workers in the South. A total of 74 percent of workers voted against the IAM organizing in an NLRB election in 2017. This followed the IAM withdrawing an NLRB election petition in April 2015, five days before an NLRB-conducted election was scheduled to take place.

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