IAM a Loser: Machinists' Union Fails Big at Boeing
By Olivia Grady
On January 15, 2017, workers at Boeing’s South Carolina factory voted overwhelmingly to reject the union.
Boeing reported that about 2,800 out of 3,000 workers voted in the election and about 74 percent voted against unionization.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Boeing workers in Washington State, was attempting to unionize the South Carolina factory. Boeing had actually moved some of the company to South Carolina because the union had stopped work in Puget Sound multiple times. For example, in 2008, a Machinists strike cost Boeing about $100 million per day for 8 weeks. Unlike Washington State, South Carolina is a Right-to-Work state with few union members.
And this wasn’t the union’s first attempt to unionize these workers. The union had tried almost two years ago, but union leaders called off the election, claiming misinformation from the company and politicians.
This is the third major loss for unions in the South after Tennessee Volkswagen plant workers and Reynolds Tobacco maintenance workers rejected unions in 2014 and 2011, respectively.
Why did the Boeing workers vote against the union?
The union claimed it would get fairer evaluations for workers, consistent work instructions, and higher wages, but Boeing told workers that a union would come between the workers and the company. Boeing also reminded workers that the union was against opening the South Carolina factory.
In response to the vote, Machinists organizer Mike Evans released a statement saying he was disappointed by the vote:
"Ultimately it will be the workers who dictate what happens next. We've been fortunate enough to talk with hundreds of Boeing workers over the past few years. Nearly every one of them, whether they support the union or not, have improvements they want to see at Boeing. Frankly, they deserve better."
The union will have to wait at least another year before it can file for another election.
Vice President and General Manager of Boeing South Carolina Joan Robinson-Berry in response to the vote expressed excitement about President Donald Trump’s January 17th trip to see Boeing’s new Dreamliner:
“We will continue to move forward as one team. We have a bright future ahead of us and we're eager to focus on the accomplishments of this great team and to developing new opportunities. Friday we will mark the most recent incredible accomplishment in the proud history of the BSC team with the rollout of the first 787-10. It is great to have this vote behind us as we come together to celebrate that event.”
To read more about this vote, please click here.