Boeing Commercial Airplanes is preparing for a new battle with the International Association of Machinists, the labor union that represents hundreds of Boeing workers in Washington State. The union on January 20 petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a secret-ballot election for approximately 2,850 production workers to organize and affiliate with IAM at the Boeing assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C.
This would be the second attempt to organize the South Carolina complex, which is the site of Boeing’s second final assembly and delivery operations for the 787 Dreamliner. In March 2015 a petition for an election was filed with NLRB by the IAM, but then withdrawn a few days before the scheduled April 22, 2015 vote.
Earlier, in 2010, the union sued Boeing through the NLRB, contending retaliation (versus IAM workers in Washington state) for building the new plant in a “right to work” state. Boeing and the IAM later settled the dispute, and Boeing agreed to build its 737MAX jet series at the Everett plant.
Boeing South Carolina also fabricates, assembles, and installs systems for rear fuselage sections of the 787 Dreamliner, and joins and integrates midbody fuselage sections. Completed aft and midbody sections are delivered to Everett, Wash., for final assembly, or are moved to final assembly line in North Charleston, S.C.
The South Carolina complex also includes a plant manufacturing 787 interior parts (stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, floor-mounted stow bins, overhead flight-crew rests, overhead flight attendant crew rests, video-control stations, and attendant modules for 787s assembled in South Carolina.)
The complex also includes the Boeing Research & Technology Center, which focuses on advanced manufacturing technology and composite fuselage manufacturing; and Propulsion South Carolina, where the design and assembly of the 737 MAX engine nacelle inlet is done. The latter also designs the 737 MAX engine nacelle fan cowl and the 777X nacelle.
According to IAM organizers, Boeing South Carolina workers have remained in contact with the union in recent months, regarding “numerous workplace concerns that remain unaddressed, including subjective raises, inconsistent scheduling policies, and a lack of respect on the shop floor.”