The federal agency that oversees union complaints is seeking a court order that would effectively require Boeing to move its new 787 assembly line out of Charleston and into Washington state. The National Labor Relations Board said Wednesday it has reasonable cause to believe Boeing violated federal labor law when it built the new facility in the Charleston area.
Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and 1st District Congressman Tim Scott are holding a press conference in North Charleston this morning to address the NLRB action.
In 2007, Boeing announced it would assemble seven new 787 Dreamliner planes per month at its factory in Washington’s Puget Sound area. Two years later, the company wanted to expand to build an additional three planes each month. It entered into negotiations with the local International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but the two sides could not reach an agreement. Boeing instead chose to build the second assembly line at a new facility in Charleston, where employees are not unionized.
The union asked the NLRB to intervene, saying Boeing made it clear in media interviews that it shifted into South Carolina to avoid unions. The board on Wednesday said it believed Boeing was retaliating against the IAMAW for its past strikes. NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon said the company was trying to chill any future strikes.
A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law.
In its complaint, the NLRB said it wants the company to transfer its second assembly line back to Washington. Boeing called the suit frivolous and questioned its timing– 17 months after it first revealed its South Carolina plans and only three months before it opens the new Charleston line.
The complaint drew quick and indignant responses from South Carolina leaders, who have publicly touted Boeing’s hiring of more than 1,000 employees at the plant. Governor Nikki Haley called Wednesday’s NLRB decision an act of union bullying.
This is an absolute assault on a great corporate citizen and on South Carolina’s right-to-work status. We will continue to do everything we can to protect that status, and to stand with companies like Boeing… This bullying will not be tolerated in South Carolina.
This is not the first time South Carolina has been on the wrong end of NLRB legal proceedings in the past year. It was one of four states the agency threatened to sue in January after passing a secret ballot constitutional amendment, although the NLRB later backed off. Republican legislators are also unhappy with a proposed NLRB rule that would require many businesses to prominently post a federal law that grants employees collective bargaining rights.