The union election at Boeing South Carolina will not take place next week after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) withdrew its petition with the National Labor Relations Board Friday, according to a press release from the union.
More than 3,100 production and maintenance workers at Boeing South Carolina’s 787 Dreamliner campus in North Charleston would have been eligible to vote for union representation on Wednesday. The withdrawal means the union cannot try again for at least six months. Had the assembly workers rejected union representation, the IAM would not have been allowed to attempt another vote for at least a year.
The IAM cited “a toxic environment and gross violations of workers’ lawful organizing rights” as reasons for canceling. Additionally, union leaders have said that they were considering withdrawing the petition if they did not have enough support to win. The union statement also blamed “political interference.” While it did not name individuals, Gov. Nikki Haley, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, and numerous other state and local Republicans have ardently opposed the plant’s unionization.
Boeing officials responded by praising their employees. “I want to thank the team for their patience and professionalism throughout this process, but most importantly their passion, spirit and determination to move forward together,” Boeing South Carolina vice president and general manager Beverly Wyse said in an emailed statement. “We now have the opportunity to make Boeing South Carolina and our local community an even better place to work and live. And that’s what we’re going to do — together.”
The petition for a union election was filed on March 16th after the union said the required 30 percent of Boeing assembly workers signed authorization cards expressing interest in union representation. Some workers had reached out to the IAM regarding numerous workplace concerns, including forced overtime, rising health care costs and a lack of respect on the shop floor.
The IAM conducted home visits with more than 1,700 workers in recent weeks to gauge support and help determine whether they should cancel this election. The union said it suspended home visits after two organizers were threatened at gunpoint and others reported hostile confrontations. The IAM said it has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB.
Although the election will not happen, the IAM said it plans to continue organizing efforts for a future election. The union said it expects to file a petition for another election in six months or so.