The federal National Labor Relations Board has set May 31 as the date for a union-representation vote at Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ North Charleston, S.C., assembly complex. It will be the third such vote scheduled at the plant in three years, all sought by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union.
The IAM already represents over 35,000 workers at 24 Boeing’s operations, but none in the North Charleston operation. The IAM also represents workers at other aerospace manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, and United Technologies.
However, the upcoming secret-ballot vote will concern only 178 technicians and inspectors at the plant where the OEM assembles its 787 Dreamliner. Boeing has about 6,800 workers at the South Carolina location.
Three years ago, in the first effort to organize workers there, the IAM ultimately withdrew the prior to the scheduled election. In 2017, about 3,000 workers decisively rejected the unionization motion.
According to the IAM, the current organizing effort is the result of Boeing flight-line employees approaching the union with concerns about arbitrary management decisions over overtime, bonuses, and work rules, a union spokesman explained.
Boeing objected to the new organizing effort, contending that the comparatively small number of employees voting in the election violates federal law. Reportedly, Boeing plans to appeal the NLRB ruling that scheduled the May 31 vote.
Such an appeal is unlikely to prevent the election, but a successful could be the grounds for overturning the results.