A group of 176 flight readiness technicians at the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) North Charleston, South Carolina, assembly plant voted to unionize on Thursday. The final tally was 104 to 65. Boeing has said it will challenge the legality of the union and of the voting.
The South Carolina employees voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the same union that lost a wider 2017 election to represent about 3,000 Boeing employees at the plant that builds 787s. The IAM represents more than 35,000 Boeing employees at 24 locations around the country.
Last week Boeing asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop the voting and called the proposed bargaining unit “an artificially gerrymandered subset of employees.” The NLRB denied the request on Wednesday and the voting took place Thursday.
This so-called micro-union was encouraged during the Obama administration, but Trump appointees have reverted to the earlier precedent when micro-unions could be formed only by a group of workers whose jobs are truly unique in the company. Boeing argues that even that definition is too broad and “essentially spell[s] the death knell for manufacturing facilities like Boeing South Carolina.”
IAM International President Bob Martinez said:
Unions are the best mechanism for protecting the interest of working men and women. When unions and business collaborate, the American economy prospers and all Americans benefit.
Our members work at Boeing plants across the country. We are glad to add the South Carolina plant to the list. … I hope the company will accept the results and join us in a dialogue about the future of North American industry and the North American worker.
Boeing stock traded up about 1.3% just after the noon hour Friday, at $356.55 in a 52-week range of $184.53 to $371.60.