The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has set the date for a vote on unionization at Boeing’s South Carolina facility in North Charleston.
The vote asking more than 2,400 employees if they want to be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is scheduled for April 22. The machinists union requested an election earlier this month providing the signatures of 30 percent of workers, as federal law requires for any election. The vote would be held on the single day set by the NLRB and agreed upon by Boeing and the IAM.
The vote would only cover the production workers who assemble the company’s 787 Dreamliner. A simple majority of the vote is all that’s needed for approval. South Carolina’s “right to work” laws do not require employees to join the union if it is approved, but the IAM would still represent them in any collective bargaining.
Both the union and Boeing will be allowed to present the cases for and against unionization over the next month.
South Carolina leaders — particularly Gov. Nikki Haley – have strongly advocated against the plant’s unionization, arguing Boeing chose South Carolina largely because of the state’s “Right-to-Work” laws. In her State of the State speech this year, the governor noted IAM had filed a suit with the NLRB that sought to prevent Boeing from expanding into South Carolina.
The union said it filed the petition after “a significant number” of Boeing employees signed authorization cards. In a statement, IAM said Boeing workers had “numerous workplace concerns,” including forced overtime, fair wages and a lack of respect on the shop floor. IAM spokesman Frank Larkin said employees are mostly concerned about “changing rules” that vary based upon who is the manager on the floor at the time.
Jay Harper contributed to this report