The Post and Courier’s editorial on Feb. 12 waded into South Carolina Boeing workers’ decision on whether to join together in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
For the past three years, I’ve gotten to know many Boeing South Carolina (BSC) families. Before that, I worked under an IAM contract for more than two decades. I want Boeing workers here to have the same safety and security on the job that I’ve been blessed to have.
The approximately 3,000 production and maintenance workers who are eligible to vote on Feb. 15 are unfortunately not sharing in the success of Boeing’s North Charleston facility like they should.
BSC management is making within 6 percent of what their counterparts in Washington state make, but hourly employees are taking home paychecks up to 36 percent less than IAM members making the same plane on the West Coast.
There are families at Boeing South Carolina who are not making ends meet. That’s wrong. South Carolina taxpayers, who are forking over more than $1 billion to Boeing in tax breaks and incentives, should demand more.
Management discretion has resulted in inconsistent work rules and has hurt morale. Raises are at the whim of Boeing corporate executives. Layoffs are arbitrary, and without a union, Boeing workers have no recourse.
Boeing, by spending millions of dollars on an anti-union ad campaign to spread misleading statements about the IAM, is only proving my point that Boeing workers need representation on the job.
When Boeing South Carolina workers vote for a union on Wednesday, they will be able to sit across from management — as equals — to negotiate for better pay, benefits and work rules.
They will have tremendous power when they do, because more than 35,000 union Boeing workers across the country will have their backs.
Boeing won’t be able to pit one coast against the other anymore, which drives down wages in South Carolina, and for the entire U.S. aerospace industry. The power we build will keep these jobs right here in North Charleston, instead of in China or Mexico, and make them better for generations to come.
For the last decade and longer, South Carolina politicians have bragged about the likes of Boeing, BMW, Honda, Mercedes and Michelin setting up shop in the state. But South Carolina, where union membership is the lowest in the nation, still lags in the bottom 10 in median household income.
Suppressing working people is the old way of doing business in South Carolina. A union contract at Boeing will be a major victory for South Carolina’s middle class.
Boeing North Charleston