The Machinists union says it could decide by Friday whether to postpone next week’s vote to organize production workers at Boeing South Carolina. A door-to-door campaign is helping it gauge whether it has enough backing to win.

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The Machinists union says it may postpone next week’s vote to organize production workers at Boeing South Carolina unless a door-to-door campaign shows it has enough backing to win.

International Association of Machinists (IAM) spokesman Frank Larkin said the union could decide by the end of this week whether the vote will go ahead as scheduled on April 22.

Opponents of the unionization effort say the IAM stance reflects weak support.

“Things must not be going that well,” said Cynthia Ramaker, a Boeing quality inspector who leads an internal-worker campaign against the effort to unionize the North Charleston plant’s roughly 3,000 production workers.

Mike Evans, an IAM national organizer heading the election drive, said union volunteers are visiting the homes of all workers entitled to vote, asking them to sign a card saying they’ll vote for union representation.

“If they don’t sign the card, they might not have an election,” said Evans.

That message is repeated in a video on the union-campaign website, in which Evans says, “If there isn’t enough support during this process, we will consider withdrawing.”

The union in March submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cards signed by more than 30 percent of the workforce, the threshold required to call the election.

If the union were to lose the vote, it couldn’t hold another organizing election for at least a year.

If it postpones the vote, it can continue its campaign to sway people and schedule another election in six months.

Ironically, Ramaker was elected as the union’s local president in 2008, when the IAM briefly represented the workforce while the plant was operated by Boeing partner Vought.

But the IAM signed a very poor initial contract. “It was less than stellar, for sure,” said Evans.

Later, when Boeing bought out Vough, then pushed to locate a second 787 assembly line in North Charleston, the workforce voted to decertify the union.

Ramaker, pro-union in 2008, turned into an intense opponent. She said she now sees so many anti-union T-shirts in the workplace that she’s confident people will reject the union this time.

Evans said the union assertion that it may postpone the vote is simply a realistic way to gauge support. He said Boeing has mounted “a very aggressive and ratcheted-up anti-union campaign that’s putting a lot of pressure” on the workforce.

Both the company and the union have paid for pervasive radio and billboard ads to get across their message. The company has also set up kiosks and video screens in the production complex’s lunch areas promoting the anti-union view.

Boeing management sent letters to workers’ homes warning against unionization and citing the economic impact of any potential strike. Evans called that an effort to “scare” the spouses of its workers.

South Carolina’s politicians, from Gov. Nikki Haley down, have been vocal in condemning the unionization effort.

Evans has more than 100 union staff and volunteers, including members of IAM District 751 representing Boeing workers in the Puget Sound region, knocking on doors to counter the company effort. But clearly even the union isn’t confident it can turn the tide of workforce sentiment.

“These people are going through a very rough anti-union campaign,” Evans said. “It’s going to have an impact.”