June 20, 2018, © Leeham News: The International Association of Machinists may be playing with fire.
Puget Sound’s IAM 751 may be burned in the process.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported that the IAM will file a labor grievance over Boeing’s refusal to recognize certification of a “micro-union” while the company appeals the legality of its creation.
“Boeing ignores us at their own peril,” the newspaper quotes a union official.
The union may be pursuing this at its own peril.
At stake is where Boeing will assemble the prospective New Midmarket Aircraft, or NMA (aka 797).
A small, sub-group of workers at Boeing’s Charleston (SC) 787 assembly plant voted last month by a wide margin (61.5% to 38.5%) to unionize, with the IAM representing them. The flight line workers are a small group—the vote was 104-65.
Boeing contends this is a “micro-union,” prohibited under federal law. It will appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, which under President Donald Trump is now seen by many as pro-business and anti-labor.
The national IAM claims Boeing is obligated to begin negotiating a contract with the new unit. Boeing refuses to turn over relevant information. The IAM plans to file an unfair labor practices complaint.
The micro-unit is viewed by some as the camel’s nose under the tent toward re-unionizing the Charleston plant, something Boeing staunchly opposes.
When the plant was owned by Vought and Global Aeronautica, the IAM successfully organized workers. But after Boeing purchased the facility and held out the prospect of locating a second 787 assembly line there, workers voted to decertify the IAM.
The IAM tried twice to re-organize the workers. The first vote was called off, with allegations of intimidation cited by the IAM.
The union lost the vote in the next effort.
With the success this third time, both sides look for the IAM to try at some point to organize more workers.
All this happened, and is happening, against the backdrop of a major campaign in the Puget Sound area to persuade Boeing to site the NMA/797 assembly line at the Everett (WA) plant, where Boeing’s wide-body aircraft (except for 787 line 2) are built.
But 751, although not directly involved in the Charleston vote, weighed in with a statement on the results—one that certainly did not go unnoticed by Boeing.
“District 751 would like to congratulate the flight line mechanics in Charleston (SC) who have successfully stood up to the Boeing Company and very strongly stated that “we want rights on the job,” 751 posted on its website. “All the captive audience meetings had no impact. The workers were not intimidated and chose to be represented by the IAM. This is the first step in their efforts to gain fairness and a voice on the job.”
Neither the union vote, unfair labor practices complaint nor the 751 statement will help the cause of locating the NMA assembly site in heavily-unionized Puget Sound.