Following the Machinists’ union winning a “micro unit” at Boeing’s North Charleston, SC plant last month, the company says it will refuse to bargain with the union pending an appeal of the NLRB’s unit determination.
As expected, Boeing has declined to begin bargaining with the International Association of Machinists, following an election last month wherein a small group of the company’s employees voted in favor of unionization.
“We continue to strongly believe that this micro-unit is prohibited under federal law and we are appealing to the NLRB,” the company stated on its website. “We do not intend to recognize the IAM as the lawful representative of our teammates while the appeal is pending.”
The move is not unexpected. Following the results of the election last month, Boeing had stated that the company planned to appeal the National Labor Relations Board’s determination that a micro unit was an appropriate unit at its North Charleston plant.
“While we are deeply disappointed with the result and are appealing, we will come together as we continue to deliver on our customer commitments,” the company stated at the time.
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, the Machinists union will file an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB over the company’s refusal to negotiate.
Mike Evans, the IAM’s lead organizer in North Charleston, said Boeing was legally obligated to begin negotiations once certification took place. He said the union will file an unfair labor practices complaint against Boeing if the company refuses to negotiate.
“We are the representative of those workers on the flight line and we will exercise every right we have to make sure those workers have the opportunity to exercise their right to bargain,” Evans said. “Boeing ignores us at their own peril.”
If the NLRB in Washington agrees with the regional NLRB and Machinists position, and orders the company to negotiate, the issue could end up in federal courts–which could take several years.