Stop The Attack On Non-Union Workers ‘Going Union:” The Country's Largest Aerospace Union Says Boeing Fired Workers Over Union Membership In South Carolina
(COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA) - Some vocal members of the country's largest Aerospace Union were fired from a Boeing plant in South Carolina, a move the Union says it sees as retaliation for its having made inroads in the state after several organization attempts.
In interviews with The Associated Press, a terminated Boeing Employee and officials with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) say Boeing created a hostile environment following a vote this Spring to form a Collective Bargaining Unit among some of the Workers.
In May, Employees on Boeing's flight line - a part of the facility where Workers perform flight-readiness and other checks - voted 2-to-1 to join IAM, which already represents more than 35,000 Boeing Employees at 24 locations nationwide.
In recent months, six Flight-Line Employees - all described by the IAM as avid Union supporters - were fired for infractions that were not an issue before the Workers joined the union, according to IAM Organizing Director Vinnie Addeo. That includes backdating tool log information, at a manager's request, and crossing a pathway while an aircraft was taxiing nearby, a practice the Union says had happened multiple times with no disciplinary action taken. "The company is simply doing this for one reason: to deter the support we have here," Addeo told the AP.
Rich Mester, 48, retired from the U.S. Air Force before coming to work on Boeing's flight line in 2013. Mester said he joined the Unionization effort earlier this year after he felt Boeing hadn't kept promises on issues like implementation of consistent scheduling.
The IAM has filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) cases, and Addeo says he's optimistic they'll prevail.
In the meantime, Boeing - which campaigned against the organization effort - has refused to negotiate a contract to cover Employees.
According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a refusal to engage in collective bargaining is considered a ULP and companies and Unions must "meet at reasonable times to bargain in good faith" following a successful vote to organize.
Boeing has appealed the May vote, asking the NLRB to toss it out because Flight-Line Workers aren't a distinct group from the rest of the plant.
South Carolina's governor has also asked Federal Officials to overturn the vote, saying allowing the Union would threaten the state's economy.
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