The Machinists union announced Friday that it will file for a new vote to organize the production workers at Boeing’s manufacturing site in North Charleston, S.C. The move can be expected to trigger a fresh crossfire of propaganda between company and union.
The Machinists union announced Friday that it will file for a new vote to organize production workers at Boeing’s manufacturing complex in North Charleston, S.C., according to a person familiar with the plans.
Detailed arrangements for the vote among roughly 3,000 eligible workers must be agreed on by the union and company through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a process that typically takes three to five weeks.
The union filing will trigger a fresh wave of impassioned propaganda from both the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and Boeing as each tries to sway the workforce during the run-up to the vote.
The union had indicated in November that a vote would come soon and that it expects this time to be successful after a failed attempt to organize in 2015.
In anticipation of the IAM announcement, Boeing issued a statement Thursday suggesting that the union’s primary focus is preserving jobs in the Puget Sound region, not North Charleston.
“We’ve said consistently over the past several years, and we continue to believe, that a union is not in the best interest of our teammates, our business, our community or our state,” Boeing said. “Our position has not changed.”
Boeing sent mailings to the homes of its South Carolina employees in November aimed at convincing them to resist the union’s overtures.
However, the IAM’s move to file for a vote indicates it has managed to get more than 30 percent of the workers to sign cards requesting union representation.
The union called a previous vote in March 2015, but canceled it a month later before the vote actually took place when it sensed a lack of majority support.
It’s likely union officials wouldn’t file again now unless feedback from workers has given them more confidence about the outcome.
With President-elect Donald Trump taking office on the same day as the IAM announcement, the vote in South Carolina will likely stoke political fires.
Trump will immediately be able to appoint two new members to the NLRB, which could mark a shift in future rulings.
The labor-secretary nominee — Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurant chains — has been critical of the NLRB.
And South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a fierce opponent of the IAM organizing Boeing, will also be a Cabinet member as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.
The total workforce at Boeing South Carolina now stands at just over 7,600 people, down more than 600 jobs since the peak last March.