North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, union sound off on Boeing

Boeing South Carolina makes the 787 Dreamliner.

Two local elected officials on Thursday criticized a union’s effort to organize more than 3,000 workers at Boeing South Carolina.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said at a new conference he felt compelled to speak out against the International Association of Machinists because he said the union ridiculed the quality of the local workforce. Those barbs came after Boeing picked the Lowcountry for its first commercial aircraft factory to be built outside of Washington state, he said.

Summey also said that the only reason the IAM wants to represents the North Charleston workers is to protect its large Boeing membership in the Pacific Northwest.

A union official disputed Summey’s remarks.

“There is no record of IAM criticizing South Carolina or pitting one workforce against another,” spokesman Frank Larkin said in a statement. Larkin also said Summey’s “comments are more evidence that Boeing is simply too powerful and that workers there need an independent voice on the job.”

Also on hand at the news conference was Charleston County Council Chairman Elliot Summey, the mayor’s son.

The Machinist union is seeking to represent 3,175 production workers at Boeing’s North Charleston aircraft plants, which employ more than 7,000. The company is fighting the organizing effort.

The vote is scheduled for April 22.

Boeing makes parts for and assembles the 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston.

David Wren of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.