Boeing Co. is warning employees that union organizers are "working in the shadows" to recruit workers at the 787 Dreamliner campus in North Charleston, but the International Association of Machinists says the claim is not true.
“The IAM is not currently circulating union authorization cards at Boeing’s North Charleston plant, and we are disappointed that Boeing’s anti-union campaign is claiming otherwise," said Mike Evans, the union's lead local organizer.
Boeing South Carolina is claiming on its website and in a Facebook post that the union is trying to get more workers to sign authorization cards in the wake of the IAM's recent success in organizing flight-line workers at the site. Authorization cards are used by a union to show there's enough interest in organized labor for the National Labor Relations Board to schedule an election.
"That probably means more unannounced home visits and calls from union salespeople," Boeing states on its website. "Keep your voice. Don't sign it over to the IAM. Don't sign a union card."
Boeing South Carolina spokesman Victor Scott said the company doesn't have any concrete evidence that the IAM is currently asking workers to sign cards.
"We've heard there may be union organizers down here," he said. "We've also heard the organizers have told our team members not to talk about it."
Evans said Boeing executives are probably confusing IAM support within the company's workforce for organized union activity.
"The confusion may be coming from the visible support for the flight line from inside the plant," he said. "There is significant interest in the IAM at Boeing South Carolina, and we continue to have dialogue with workers."
Evans said the union's focus remains on helping flight readiness technicians at the North Charleston site negotiate and secure their first contract. Flight line workers voted 104-65 on June 12 to join the IAM in a small but symbolic win for organized labor in the South.
Boeing has refused to recognize the union victory, saying a regional director for the NLRB incorrectly ruled the vote could proceed despite the company's protest that flight-line workers can't be separated from the rest of the assembly workforce. The company has appealed that decision, but the federal labor board has yet to take action.
The IAM says Boeing must negotiate with its flight-line workers regardless of the appeal. The union filed a complaint with the NLRB last week accusing Boeing of violating federal labor laws. That complaint is pending.
The IAM lost a bid last year to organize production workers at Boeing's Dreamliner campus and other North Charleston sites.
While Boeing has fought the IAM's attempts to organize North Charleston workers, the union represents more than 35,000 of the company's workers in 24 locations nationwide, mostly on the West Coast.