The National Labor Relations Board is seeking a court order that in effect would require Boeing Co. to move its second 787 assembly line to Washington state.
The second line is being built in North Charleston.
The federal agency is alleging in a lawsuit that Boeing engaged in unfair labor practices when it decided in 2009 to build a new $750 million plant at Charleston International Airport rather than assigning the work to its existing unionized 787 factory in Everett, Wash.
Boeing said it will "vigorously contest" the complaint.
Workers at the North Charleston plant, which is scheduled to open this summer, are not represented by a union.
NLRB wants an order requiring Boeing to “operate the second line of 787 Dreamliner aircraft assembly production in the state of Washington, utilizing supply lines” in the Seattle and Portland, Ore., areas.
The board also said its lawsuit does not call for Boeing to shut down the North Charleston plant.
The lawsuit stemmed from a case filed in March 2010 by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace District Lodge 751.
The IAM has engaged in five strikes against Boeing since 1977.
The agency said Boeing officials had made “coercive statements” to union employees in Everett starting in 2009 that the company would relocate or had relocated work because of strikes.
The NLRB complaint drew a harsh response from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.
“This is one of the worst examples of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that I’ve ever seen,” Graham said today in a statement. “In this case, the NLRB is doing the bidding of the unions at great cost to South Carolina and our nation’s economy.”
Graham added: “If successful, the NLRB complaint would allow unions to hold a virtual ‘veto’ over business decisions.”
He said he would do everything in his power, including introducing legislation, to ensure the lawsuit does not affect the North Charleston assembly line.
Gov. Nikki Haley also decried the lawsuit.
Statement from Gov. Haley on frivolous union complaint against Boeing
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gov. Nikki Haley today issued the following statement in response to the National Labor Relations Board complaint filed against Boeing by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:
“This is an absolute assault on a great corporate citizen and on South Carolina’s right-to-work status," Haley said. "We will continue to do everything we can to protect that status, and to stand with companies like Boeing who understand what it means to take care of their employees without the interference of a meddlesome, self-serving union. This bullying will not be tolerated in South Carolina.”
For more details, see Thursday’s editions of The Post and Courier.
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