Here we go again: Machinists bid to organize Boeing Dreamliner plant in S.C.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.—The Machinists aren’t giving up: For a second time in three years, they’re trying to organize the 2,850 workers at Boeing’s non-union 787 Dreamliner factory in North Charleston, S.C.

What will happen is anyone’s guess: Right wing GOP Gov. Nikki Haley, who vowed never to let the Machinists win and to make South Carolina union-free, is now Republican President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, removing one obstacle.

But her state labor commissioner, a former union-buster, is still in place in the state capital in Columbia, and IAM had to halt its last drive in North Charleston after several organizers received death threats. South Carolina is the least-unionized state in the U.S.

In filing their recognition election petition on Jan. 23, Machinists lead organizer Mike Evans said “Boeing workers just want to be treated with the respect they deserve. Why should they be subject to a different set of standards and rules than folks building the exact same plane in Seattle?” The petition went to the National Labor Relations Board’s Atlanta office.

Evans blamed postponement of the prior vote, which the NLRB had scheduled for April 22, 2015, on “unprecedented political interference” by Carolina lawmakers and “rampant misinformation among the workers.

“It was impossible to hold a free and fair election in an environment so ripe with mistruths and outright lies. Unfortunately, we’ve now heard numerous reports of the company walking people off the job for seeking a voice,” he said.

“Despite the obstacles, we feel this group is ready to take a stand. The only way to secure the workplace improvements they deserve is through a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. I can unequivocally say there will be a vote this time around.”

Evans’ comparison of Boeing in North Charleston and Seattle harkens back to firm’s prior fight against the union several years ago. That’s when Boeing’s former CEO announced it would move most Dreamliner production to North Charleston specifically to get away from IAM’s strong defense of Boeing’s unionized aerospace workers in the Pacific Northwest.

The CEO’s decision eventually forced the NLRB to file labor law-breaking – formally called unfair labor practices – charges against Boeing for illegal retaliation against the union.  As a result, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tried to shut the NLRB down by blocking confirmation of board members, and the U.S. Senate changed its rules to stop such blockades.

This time, the election could be faster, giving Boeing less time to break labor law and coerce workers. But the  website for the workplace campaign shows it may be doing so again.

“Once again management has chosen to ignore your rights when it comes to organizing under the National Labor Relations Act,” it reports. “Recently at a morning meeting, a supervisor instructed workers to vote ‘No.’ This act is a violation of the law. Management has no right to instruct you on how to vote.

“Supervision continued their assault on worker rights by holding up a picture of an empty Building 30 while implying if you organize this is what Building 30 will look like – another violation of the law.

“Unfortunately, management from the top down feels you should not have any rights and they have no plans or concerns to honor your rights.”

Pay differences may also be an issue. A chart on the union website shows a 6.5 percent difference — in favor of the unionized Boeing workers in the Seattle-Everett plant – and a 36 percent pay difference for hourly workers, again in favor of Seattle-Everett workers.

Source: PAI