The Boeing machinists union... [Archive] - RetrieverTraining.Net - the RTF

: The Boeing machinists union...

Uncle Bill
04-26-2011, 10:59 AM
...appears to be taking it in the shorts. So, not only are the public unions in the crosshairs of the citizenry of the USA, but the private unions are having some problems as well. This is from Redstate.


On Wednesday, when President Obama’s union-controlled National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint ( against the Boeing Company for making a sound business decision to “dual source” its 787 production, it was another blatant example of a government agency run amok. However, while most of the nuts and bolts behind the dispute were detailed here (, there are several other, more intricate details behind the NLRB’s legally tenuous prosecution of Boeing that are deserving of closer examination—most notably, the union’s own culpability behind the decision.

A Union With a Bone to Pick.
Even before the decision was made by Boeing to locate the second assembly line in South Carolina, Boeing’s union (the International Association of Machinists) had a problem in South Carolina. Namely, workers at the facility had voted the Machinists’ union out ( shortly after Boeing bought the facility in 2009 from Vought Aircraft because of workers believed the union poorly represented them (
What brought the workers to the point of decertifying the union an interesting story that is both part irony and part poor representation by the union.
In 2007, after having been narrowly voted in ( to represent the employees of Vought Aircraft in North Charleston, SC, the Machinists’ union (IAM) was still in the midst of negotiating its first contract when the union struck Boeing for two months in Puget Sound in 2008. Since Vought was one of Boeing’s suppliers, the union’s Washington strike forced Vought to temporarily close ( the South Carolina plant and lay off the employees.

After nearly a year of negotiations, as the one year anniversary approached, there were reportedly ( rumors that there was a decertification effort under way. However, either sensing that it may be decertified or realizing its potential membership base was going to be significantly cut back, the union engineered a contract to lock employees in even before the company had presented its final offer (
Some employees have expressed concern that they didn’t know a vote was being taken and that only a small fraction of those in the collective bargaining unit might have participated. Those concerns came up at a meeting last night at the union hall, according to a worker who was there.
Dallas-based Vought was also taken by surprise that its workers voted to ratify an agreement with the Machinists union, the company said in a statement released Thursday.

Touting that an “overwhelming” 92% of the members voted to accept the contract, it soon became apparent that the 92% the union claimed was really12 out of 13 people who actually showed up at the union’s meeting and voted (out of nearly 200 affected). What was worse than the back-door deal the Machinists rammed through was the fact that it was also a bad deal (, according to employees:
“We got screwed,” said newly laid-off assembly mechanic Jay Fleckenstein on Thursday night as he worked his second job delivering pizza.
And mechanic Pam DeGarmo said the 1.5 percent annual wage hike won’t even cover the union dues and inflation.Several months later, in July 2009, Boeing announced ( it was buying the South Carolina facility from Vought. By the end of July, with the facility purchased, the employees in South Carolina filed to decertify ( the union.

Meanwhile, in Puget Sound, Boeing had already begun seeking to obtain a longer contract with the Machinists union. In early July, Boeing told Washington State politicians ( that it was seeking a longer contract with the union
Members of the state’s congressional delegation said Tuesday that Boeing is laying down an ultimatum to its biggest union: Unless a long-term agreement barring strikes by the Machinists is reached by this fall, Boeing will build a second production line for the 787 someplace outside Washington.
“The whole thing comes down to, can they get a long-term agreement with the union, with a no-strike clause,” influential U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, said in an interview Tuesday. “That’s what ultimately has to happen here in the next two or three or four months — or they are going to go elsewhere.
“I think if they get this agreement, they would stay.”
In a separate interview, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson told her recently the company is seeking a long-term no-strike agreement with the Machinists union.
Carson also said Boeing will likely make its decision on the location of a second 787 production line this fall, though Gregoire said he did not specifically link the two elements as an ultimatum.

In late October 2009, Boeing, unable to get an agreement with the union, announced ( that it would locate its second assembly line in South Carolina.
“We’re taking prudent steps to protect the interests of our customers as we introduce the 787-9 and ramp up overall production to 10 twin-aisle 787 jets per month,” said Albaugh.
“While we welcome the development of this expanded capability at Boeing Charleston, the Puget Sound region is the headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Everett will continue to design and produce airplanes, including the 787, and there is tremendous opportunity for our current and future products here,” Albaugh emphasized. “We remain committed to Puget Sound.”

In March, 2010, the Machinists filed charges against Boeing claiming the company’s move was in retaliation for the 2008 strike. At the time, the Seattle Times noted (
The IAM struck Boeing for two months in fall 2008, the fourth strike in a decade. Early the following year, Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney told Washington’s congressional delegation the repeated strikes were a major problem and the company would seek another location for its second 787 assembly line unless the union agreed to a long-term no-strike clause.
“We were entirely transparent with the IAM,” Healy said. “[B]We needed an agreement that would allow us to meet our customer commitments.”
The complaint was filed with the NLRB in March. That same month, Jim Albaugh, the chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a Seattle Times interview that “the overriding factor (in choosing South Carolina) was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we are paying today … It was that we can’t afford to have a work stoppage every three years.”
Is that an illegal reprisal, punishing a past strike? Or is it a legitimate strategic choice, avoiding future strikes?
“Our decision has everything to do with being a reliable supplier and is not a reprisal for the past,” said Boeing’s Healy.The NLRB, in the complaint published ( on Wednesday, believes that, rather than Boeing making a legitimate strategic choice (as many other companies have) Boeing’s actions were “in retaliation for past strike activity and to chill future strike activity by its union employees.”
Unfortunately for the IAM, if it were not for its poor representation in South Carolina, where the union had existed before getting kicked out, it could have had Boeing members in both Washington as well as South Carolina and the NLRB fight would never have had to take place.

Roger Perry
04-26-2011, 11:22 AM
Here is the real story----------------------
For businesses, it was the type of action they have feared from a National Labor Relations Board ( dominated by Democrats. For labor unions, it was the type of action they have hoped for. And for both, it may be a sign of things to come.
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These fears and hopes were stirred this week when the labor board’s top lawyer filed a case ( against Boeing (, seeking to force it to move airplane production from a nonunion plant in South Carolina to a unionized one in Washington State. Boeing executives had publicly said they were making the move to avoid the kind of strikes the airplane maker had repeatedly faced in Washington; Lafe Solomon, the labor board’s acting general counsel, said the company’s motive constituted illegal retaliation against workers for exercising their right to strike.
The agency’s unusually bold action angered business groups and some politicians, who said it was an unwarranted attempt by the government to interfere with a fundamental corporate decision.
But under President Obama (’s appointees, the agency, including Mr. Solomon and his staff, has sought to reinterpret and more vigorously enforce the rules governing employers and employees, from what workers can say about their bosses on Twitter ( to the use of Internet and phone voting in union elections.
How much ultimately changes will depend in large part on the decisions made by the five-member board, led by Wilma Liebman, that sits atop the agency. That panel hears cases brought by the board’s regional offices — overseen by Mr. Solomon — after employers, workers or unions file complaints.
Democratic-dominated boards often tilt toward unions and reverse the decisions of Republican-leaning boards, which usually tilt toward management, and vice versa. The current board — made up of three Democrats and one Republican, with one vacancy — is expected to reverse a Bush-era decision that stripped graduate teaching assistants at private universities of their right to bargain collectively. Labor experts also predict that the board will adopt a policy that makes it easier to organize nursing home workers by allowing unions to go after smaller units of workers inside those homes.
The biggest surprise has been the activist stance taken by Mr. Solomon, a career civil servant at the board for 39 years. He became acting general counsel in June 2010, and President Obama nominated him to be the permanent general counsel last January. The Senate has not yet confirmed him to the post.
In the Boeing case, Mr. Solomon charged that the company had illegally moved some production work of the 787 Dreamliner ( passenger plane to South Carolina to punish workers for past strikes and to avoid future ones. The remedy proposed by Mr. Solomon has been denounced as extreme by many business leaders: that Boeing move the work back to its unionized Puget Sound facilities, after it made a $2 billion investment and hired 1,000 nonunion workers in South Carolina.
Outraged, the National Association of Manufacturers ( warned that if the agency won this case, “no company will be safe from the N.L.R.B. stepping in to second-guess its business decisions on where to expand.”
Senator Jim DeMint (, a South Carolina Republican, complained, “This is nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obama’s re-election campaign.”
The Boeing case was not the first time that Mr. Solomon has riled the business community and its Republican allies. Saying it is the domain of the federal government, he recently threatened to sue four Republican-heavy states — Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah — in an effort to invalidate recent constitutional amendments that prohibit private sector workers from choosing a union by signing cards, a process known as card check.
He has also sought to extend the labor board’s reach into the world of the Internet. He approved requests from regional labor board officials to bring complaints against businesses that punished employees for Facebook ( and Twitter posts, including one case against Reuters. Mr. Solomon has also proposed that electronic voting be used when workers decide whether they want to unionize their workplace — a proposal that business groups maintain will make it easier for unions to coerce workers.
In an interview, Mr. Solomon, a 61-year-old Arkansas native, insisted that he was no radical.
“My goal is to enforce the National Labor Relations Act,” he said. That law, enacted in 1935, governs private sector workers’ right to unionize as well as relations between tens of thousands of companies and employees.
Mr. Solomon, who has worked for board members of both parties, said this case was straightforward: Boeing had retaliated against workers for exercising their federally protected right to strike. “They had a consistent message that they were doing this to punish their employees for having struck and having the power to strike in the future,” he said. “I can’t not issue a complaint in the face of such evidence.”