Boeing violated labor law, NLRB alleges
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against Boeing for allegedly violating two sections of the National Labor Relations Act in its decision to open a new production facility in Charleston, S.C., rather than the Puget Sound area of Washington.
Officials from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) originally alerted the NLRB of the violations, but the board took more than a year to issue a formal complaint. The IAM is seeking to block the development of a Boeing plant in South Carolina. The complaint alleges that Boeing would transfer a second production line to this non-union facility, depriving employees in Seattle of work.
In 2007, Boeing announced a production schedule of seven 787 Dreamliners a month, all of which were to be built in Washington. Boeing then decided to build a second assembly plant in South Carolina that would produce three planes a month. Construction is nearly complete; assembly of the first airplane is scheduled for July. The IAM wants to force Boeing to keep full production of the planes in the Puget Sound region.
The complaint alleges that Boeing built the Charleston plant to retaliate against workers who had organized strikes in the past. According to an NLRB release, Boeing executives "cited the unionized employees’ past strike activity and the possibility of strikes occurring sometime in the future as the overriding factors in deciding to locate the second line in the non-union facility."
“A worker's right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act,” Lafe Solomon, acting general council of the NLRB, said in a statement. “We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law."
Prior to construction of the South Carolina facility, the IAM and Boeing held talks about the location of the new plant, but were unable to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
"Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region," Boeing's J. Michael Lutting said in a statement. "This claim is legally frivolous."
The NLRB will now conduct a full investigation. An initial hearing is set for June 14. Read the full complaint.