The International Association of Machinists’ victory of a “micro-unit” at Boeing’s South Carolina plant on Thursday may be short lived, as the company plans to appeal.
On Thursday, in a much-watched NLRB election, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) won an election with 104 votes in favor of unionization to 65 against unionization among a small group of flight-line workers at its plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The union’s victory follows two failed prior attempts by the IAM to unionize the 3,000-employee workforce in 2015 and 2017.
This time, though, the union targeted a smaller subset of workers in what is referred to as a “micro unit”—a move that Boeing has contested, stating the “micro unit” is not a legal bargaining unit.
The National Labor Relations Board’s regional office, however, approved the smaller unit earlier in May.
In a statement posted on the company’s Facebook page, the company stated that it would appeal the regional NLRB’s decision
“Boeing continues to believe that this type of micro-unit is prohibited by federal law,” the company stated. “While we are deeply disappointed with the result and are appealing, we will come together as we continue to deliver on our customer commitments.”
Although union supporters online are jubilant at the IAM’s victory, their jubilation may be for naught.
If Boeing follows through with its appeal of the “micro-unit” issue, it may be quite some time before the union and company sit down at a bargaining table–if ever.
In a similar case, following the United Auto Workers (UAW) expensive failure in trying to unionize Volkswagen’s entire plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, nearly two years later the UAW did succeed in unionizing the plant’s maintenance employees in a “micro unit.”
In that case, Volkswagen has appealed the regional NLRB’s allowance of a “micro unit” to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC.
To date, VW and the UAW have not sat down to a bargaining table.
One must wonder if the Machinists will suffer the same fate with Boeing as the UAW has with Volkswagen.