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Two-Time Loser Machinists’ Union Tries Again At Boeing SC

After two failed attempts within the last three years, the International Association of Machinists is back in South Carolina, trying for a third time to unionize Boeing employees in North Charleston.

This time, however, the union is trying to get its foot in the door by carving out a “micro unit” by targeting approximately 180 of the more than 3,000 employees at the plant.


“The IAM has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to represent about 180 of Boeing’s flight line employees, including technicians and inspectors,” the Post and Courier reported on Monday night.

“Boeing has been notified by the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) that the International Association of Machinists (IAM) has filed a third petition in less than three years seeking to unionize Boeing South Carolina (BSC),” the company stated on its website. “This petition is limited exclusively to the flight line teammates, a tactic commonly referred to as ‘micro-unit’ organizing.”

Boeing is vowing to fight the union’s attempt to carve out a smaller group of employees, however.

In the days ahead, the company will file its legal challenge and the NRLB will determine if the petition will proceed as filed.

“This union refuses to hear the clear message our team has voiced repeatedly,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina. “Now they want to pit our teammates directly against each other. The company will challenge this filing because we strongly believe that the IAM’s attempt to isolate our flight line teammates is unreasonable and is prohibited by federal law.”

Although the union was overwhelmingly rejected in 2017 by 74 percent of Boeing’s employees, the Machinists may be hoping that, by filing to represent a much smaller unit of employees, it can infiltrate the plant by winning the smaller group and then expand its efforts to the larger plant later on.

In Tennessee, after being rejected by Volkswagen’s employees in Tennessee in 2014, the United Auto Workers targeted a smaller group of maintenance workers at the VW plant.

However, despite the UAW’s winning an election with the smaller group, Volkswagen has contested the appropriateness of the bargaining unit and, several years later, the case is still mired in uncertainty at the National Labor Relations Board.

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