Huge win for Boeing in union vote

Feb. 15, 2017, (c) Leeham Co.: It wasn’t even close: 74% percent of the Boeing hourly touch-labor workers at the 787 plant in North Charleston (SC) voted against the International Association of Machinists to represent them.

It’s a humiliating defeat for the IAM that will have negative repercussions for IAM 751 in the Seattle-Everett (WA) area.

Boeing will be able to continue to hold non-union Charleston over Seattle’s IAM when it comes time to select the site for the New Mid-range Airplane (NMA) for the Middle of the Market sector. LNC calls this the 7M7.

Program launch for the NMA is widely expected next year. Site selection could come next year or in 2019.

IAM 751’s contract goes through 2024. Boeing will no doubt, as it has in the past, hold out assembling the 7M7 in Everett in exchange for more contract concessions and extending the contract beyond 2024.

Boeing will certainly ask Washington State for more incentives as well. Regardless, Boeing will compete the site across the US.

Boeing’s statement is below.

Boeing South Carolina Teammates Reaffirm Their Choice to Stay Union Free

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., Feb. 15, 2017 — Teammates at Boeing [NYSE:BA] South Carolina (BSC) have voted to reject the International Association of Machinists’ (IAM) attempt to unionize the site. A total of 2,828 teammates of the approximately 3,000 eligible to vote cast ballots, with 74 percent (2,097) voting in support of the company.

“We will continue to move forward as one team,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of BSC. “We have a bright future ahead of us and we’re eager to focus on the accomplishments of this great team and to developing new opportunities.

“Friday we will mark the most recent incredible accomplishment in the proud history of the BSC team with the rollout of the first 787-10,” said Robinson-Berry. “It is great to have this vote behind us as we come together to celebrate that event.”

15 Comments on “Huge win for Boeing in union vote

  1. Would more dreamlifters be needed for a widebody 7m7 to handle shipping wing sets from Washington? Termination of the 747 line could actually accelerate the need to figure this out?

    • “Would more dreamlifters be needed for a widebody 7m7 to handle shipping wing sets from Washington?”

      This question is clearly premature because higher priority questions are still unknown but must be answered 1st before any speculation on 7M7 logistical needs becomes relevant :
      1. 7M7(i.e. NMA for MoM segment per Boeing reference) concept will be confirmed to launch as a program?
      2. FAL site for 7M7 will be located in Everett or Charleston?
      3. Wing set assembly site will be located in Everett or Charleston?

  2. Sad, so many american working class (I know, it’s a politically incorrect word) people vote in various elections (political, union, etc.) against their (apparent) self interest. Hard to understand if you live in Seattle or the S.F. Bay area as I do. Deep cultural and identity issues?

    Income continues to shift from from the bottom three quarters to the top one and within that one to its upper reaches. And yet working people vote for a party whose only true consistent goal it to increase this shift by cutting taxes for the highest income people through lower marginal tax rates at the upper reaches and special treatment for capital gains, etc. Boeing spends its cash flow on huge executive salaries and benefits, and stock buybacks while it squeezes the workers and 75% of the S.C. workers (er, teammates) seem to approve. Things work in mysterious ways.

    • More than elsewhere the wider American population has been trained to act reflexively for decades. ( just look at the recent election for a perfect example.)
      Add to this that worker representation aka Unions are a Good Thing (TM) but that it is questionable that the existing Unions fit that description.
      Foreign employers seem to have brought some mutual benefit into regions with a “right to work” setup.

    • Dan F,

      I’m from Sweden where unions are abundant and have been for decades. And my perspective is, that the ones who benefit the most from unions, are the people who don’t want to work too hard, but rather chat with coworkers, drink coffee and collect their paycheck. And the unions make it impossible for companies here to fire people like them. The absurd situation it results in, is that companies actually give tons of money to their least productive employees, for them to quit! That is the only way for them to get rid of lazy employees. So we have a system where slacking off is as good as (or even better) working hard. Unions also make it impossible for companies to give individual pay rises to the ones who perform the best, only setting wages by years worked, etc.

      What is even more terrible is the way all the union leaderships also totally lose touch with reality and the people they are supposed to represent. They all have gigantic salaries paid by their members, and offer themselves lavish extravagant luxuries that easily could beat those of most of our country’s top corporations top management’s.


  3. Do we need even more reasons to diversify the State’s economy away from Boeing? Make it more business friendly, especially for small business?

    Both the IAM AND the state legislature will cave in to keep an ever decreasing number of Boeing jobs here, (with increasingly lower rates of compensation), against all logic.

  4. I could see a case for voting no now in order to improve the SC complex’s chances of getting the NMA/MOM/797 business, then once that is locked in (i.e. factory built and manufacturing in progress) approving a union since Boeing will have lost leverage at that point.

    it is highly likely IAM knew they were going to lose by a lot and just barely possible that they went forward with the vote as part of a longer game.

    As far as the votes of the line workers themselves, that is deep trump country and they have fully drunk the GOP’s anti-union kool aide.

    • I am apolitical and nonpartisan and believe that your comment tying recent politics and anti-union sentiment together puts, as some say, lipstick on a pig. Anti-union sentiment is historically deeply entrenched in SC. I was born and raised there and remember my father coming home (some 45+ years ago) and telling me about being (gun) shot at by union members when they feared he was going to take a job that that they thought would help break a union strike. This violence against “neighbors” was decidedly against southern culture and contributed to a decline in union support. I believe my recounting to be true, historic, factual and confirmable in general. The current “climate” was decades in building and shouldn’t be attributed to “weather”.

  5. Dan F. and others — “Deep cultural and identity issues”? Are you kidding? I’m not from South Carolina, but you may want to take the time to try to really understand people who are different from you. They may actually have legitimate motivations and convictions that don’t align with yours. Kool Aid comes in many flavors, and even those who did not vote for Trump are not immune from its toxic effects.

  6. I’ve just looked up US right to work state’s. Have I got this right, you can’t work for Boeing in Washington state unless you are a member of the union? That would be illegal in the UK.

    • Not only there.
      Bit of a Mafia setup.

      Then the unions seem to act in some places more as a kind of strangely paid subcontractor than a worker organization.

      But the central issue imho is that the haggled over basket is rather full. :: pay, pensions, health care, working hours, holidays, .. all to be gained or lost on short notice.

      Take out pensions and health care into an organizational structure where employer and unions are out of the loop and the remainder is so much less overwhelming keeping out the hysterics.

  7. I find it fascinating that at the same time as US leaders fuss over the collapse of high-earning ‘middle and working class’ jobs that at the same time they are fervent in attempting to wreck what is by now the only instrument actually working to retain them – the trade or craft unions. Though to be fair this seems more of an Anglo-Saxon pattern than an US one

    A fascinating contrast with what goes on in Germany, the Low Country and Scandinavia.

  8. I don’t see this as a win for Boeing

    Getting their act together and rather than going after the union, getting a MOM and or 737RS into production would be.

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