Boeing Wants to Ground ‘Gerrymandered’ Union Election Win

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By Lawrence E. Dubé

Boeing Co. wants the National Labor Relations Board to void an official’s decision allowing the International Association of Machinists to organize about 170 technicians out of the aircraft maker’s South Carolina workforce of approximately 7,000 employees.

The company asked the board in a request filed June 26 to vacate the regional director’s decision to limit voting to flight readiness technicians and inspectors at the company’s North Charleston, S.C., facility. The Machinists won the election May 31 on a 105-64 vote, but Boeing argued that the unit was “gerrymandered” and the board shouldn’t certify the win.

The company alleges that IAM “cherry-picked” the flight readiness employees for organizing after the union failed in a 2,087-731 vote to win the right to represent a unit of Boeing’s South Carolina production and maintenance employees.

The union persuaded an NLRB regional director that the flight readiness employees constituted an appropriate unit for bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. Boeing, however, told the board the regional director’s analysis was “perfunctory at best” and “plainly incorrect” under the NLRB’s 2017 decision in PCC Structurals that re-established a traditional community-of-interest test for determining whether a proposed voting unit is appropriate under the act.

Boeing argues the South Carolina facility where it builds 787 Dreamliner jets is a functionally integrated facility where the employees who were allowed to vote on union representation share more in common with other production and maintenance workers than they share among themselves.

Citing NLRB precedents, Boeing told the board that it should only approve voting in a “wall-to-wall” unit of production and maintenance employees. The company said “at the very least” the board should find the flight readiness employees didn’t constitute an appropriate voting unit.

IAM hasn’t yet filed a response to the Boeing request for review, and the board hasn’t set any dates for action on the case.

McGuire Woods LLP filed the appeal for Boeing Co.

The case is Boeing Co., NLRB, Case 10-RC-215878, request for review 6/26/18.

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