Some Boeing workers at its aircraft facility in North Charleston are trying again with an attempted union election.
The company announced the effort by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) more than a year after the union lost a previous organizing vote by a 3-to-1 margin. Last year’s election involved over 3,000 employees at the South Carolina plant, while this new vote would only cover about 180 flight-line workers. The IAM withdrew a previous 2015 effort before a vote could be held.
Boeing said it will file a legal challenge to stop the election, since it views the effort to only unionize flight-line workers as violating federal law. An IAM spokesman told the Charleston Post and Courier they are honoring a request from the specific assembly line employees.
“This union refuses to hear the clear message our team has voiced repeatedly,” Boeing South Carolina vice president Joan Robinson-Berry said in a statement. “We strongly believe that the IAM’s attempt to isolate our flight line teammates is unreasonable and is prohibited by federal law.”
No elections would be scheduled until the challenge is heard by the National Labor Relations Board.
The NLRB had expanded employee organizing rights under the Obama administration, giving more leeway to specific fields to organize while their coworkers may not. However, the agency’s board has eased back those abilities under the Trump administration and dictated that petitioning employees must show how their jobs are different from those not participating.
Boeing expanded into South Carolina partly to escape its union-heavy workforce in Washington state. The company assembles several different 787 Dreamliner variants at the site.