Boeing Officially Opens Charleston Plant Days Ahead of Labor Board Hearing

 - June 10, 2011, 10:16 AM

Elected officials and representatives from community and business groups, suppliers and subcontractors joined more than 1,000 Boeing employees at the company’s North Charleston, S.C., facility today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 787 Dreamliner final assembly building.

The event took place under a cloud of controversy, as Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) await a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday in Seattle marking the start of deliberations in a lawsuit filed by the NLRB against the Chicago-based company for alleged coercive actions against its machinists’ union. The hearing, scheduled to take place in Seattle in front of an administrative law judge, launches a process to address claims that Boeing located the factory in South Carolina in retaliation for past strikes by its Puget Sound workforce and chill future strike activity.

Nevertheless, the NLRB’s complaint, which could take years to settle, appears unlikely to stop Boeing from beginning final assembly of the first South Carolina-built 787 “later this summer.”

At today’s ceremony, Boeing recognized its own Site Services Group and BE&K/Turner, the design-build team, for their work in bringing construction of the building to completion six months ahead of schedule. It also noted that the BE&K/Turner team has worked 3.7 million labor-hours without a lost-time incident. Employees began moving into the building in May.

The new facility encompasses 642,720 sq ft of covered space. Plans call for the South Carolina plant to produce three 787s per month by 2013, while Boeing’s Everett, Wash., workforce builds seven.