Boeing Co. is recruiting workers from throughout its North Charleston campus to work on its flight line and keep deliveries on track, a move the International Association of Machinists says is designed to replace workers who voted last year for union representation.
In an email this week, the planemaker told workers it is "establishing a team of production and maintenance teammates that will work Saturdays and Sundays on the flight line, supplementing flight line teammates, supporting our overall production health and ensuring we meet delivery requirements."
In a statement, Boeing said it has received "positive responses" to the email from workers at the 787 Dreamliner plant who "have the experience level and certifications required to perform the tasks they are assigned."
The IAM says those tasks — such as electrical installations and working on mechanical systems — are the same jobs performed by flight-line workers it represents.
"This is disgusting on Boeing's part because they are visibly pitting worker against worker," said Mike Evans, the IAM's lead organizer. "This is an effort to dilute the (bargaining) unit down to zero."
Boeing is contesting the May 2018 vote that established a union presence on the flight line. The National Labor Relations Board has not made a ruling on the case.
The email, obtained by The Post and Courier, was not sent to current flight-line workers, according to the IAM. The email warns recipients not to forward, copy or print the document.
The company plans to move quickly, with those interested in the work asked to submit their names by Friday.
Boeing says it has offered the same work first to existing flight-line workers, some of whom say they don’t want to work weekend shifts.
The North Charleston plant is under increasing pressure to deliver Dreamliners as they stack up on the flight line.
"Deliveries are not keeping up with production, and that is concerning," said analyst Uresh Sheth, who tracks Dreamliner production on his All Things 787 website.
Sheth's statistics show 17 planes have rolled out of the North Charleston final assembly building since April, and 14 have been delivered. Boeing's second Dreamliner campus in Everett, Wash., has rolled out 17 planes and delivered 11 during that time period.
Everett is now sending some of its Dreamliners to North Charleston for delivery, partly to free up space to park grounded 737 Max jets that Boeing builds in Renton, Wash.
The IAM says the move to recruit flight-line workers isn't related to delivery issues, but an effort to bring more people onto the flight line who wouldn't be covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
It's part of an ongoing campaign against those who voted for the union, Evans said, adding flight-line workers have been spied on and targeted for discipline and firing because of their union support.
"Boeing is doing something that the average person would not expect them to be doing, and that's breaking the law with these guys," Evans said. "They should be working out a contract today. We shouldn't be having these crazy discussions about uprooting people's livelihoods."