Production and maintenance workers at Boeing Charleston, the former Vought factory in North Charleston, S.C., yesterday voted to remove the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) as their collective bargaining representative.
The vote affects some 280 workers, leaders of whom filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to decertify the union on July 30–the same day Boeing completed its acquisition of the plant. The process provides for a seven-day period for filing objections, said NLRB assistant to the regional director Howard Neidig.
A non-unionized workforce in North Charleston could intensify competition against Boeing’s established workforce in Washington’s Puget Sound region for a planned second assembly line for the 787. Boeing has attempted to downplay the possibility, but over the past few months the company has sought to reopen negotiations with the IAM in an effort to gain a no-strike clause from its Puget Sound workforce, which staged a two-month strike last fall. The IAM and the company signed a four-year deal in November, but Boeing has blamed the strike and the threat of future work action for damaging its competitive standing.
Boeing Charleston builds aft fuselage parts for the 787 Dreamliner, now scheduled for first flight by year-end.