C of C Speaker: Boeing case all about union power

Jim Gray

Daniel Island management consultant Jim Gray didn't agree with much Penn State law professor and former National Labor Relations Board trial attorney Ellen Dannin said about the pending Boeing case last week.

But Gray, who delivered his "Boeing -- The Full Story" lecture Tuesday at the College of Charleston as a sort of rebuttal to Dannin's "No Harm, No Foul? Boeing and the National Labor Relations Act" talk from Friday, was able to find some common ground with Dannin. Both say South Carolina's status as a right-to-work state is a political red herring, not relevant to the legal proceeding.

"It has very little to do with the case at hand," Gray said, explaining that if Boeing had chosen to build a plant in Ohio that happened to be non-union, the NLRB case could still have happened.

Gray, a former human resources executive who said he has participated in some 50 unionization campaigns, said the NLRB case over Boeing's decision to assemble planes in North Charleston in addition to Everett, Wash., is all about union power.

"The question is who was retaliating against whom," he said to the audience of about 60 C of C students and members of the public.

He said the focus should be on the Boeing employees.

"What's in the best interest of employees?" Gray asked. "We seem to forget that in all this."

Feddie Strickland, a 20-year-old College of Charleston junior from Lexington, said he appreciated the opportunity to hear from both Dannin and Gray but said with more information also comes more questions. He offered his take on the dispute that has people talking from coast to coast.

"It sounds like it's the employees in Charleston versus the employees in Washington state," he said. "And then the NLRB and Boeing are kind of caught in the middle."

Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him at twitter.com/kearney_brendan.