Experts say IAM will likely look to ramp support from Boeing workers

VIDEO: Experts say IAM will likely look to ramp support from Boeing workers

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers withdrew its petition for a union election at Boeing's North Charleston plant Friday. The election has been postponed for at least six months.

The Union is filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against Boeing, and claims two of its organizers were threatened at gunpoint by Boeing workers.

That information comes from a release on the Union website. It says that while out on home visits to Boeing workers two were threatened at gunpoint and others said they had quote, "hostile and near-violent confrontations."

IAM recently suspended those visits. While another election can be scheduled for some time after October, some business analysts believe the Machinists Union will start to try and ramp up even more support in the very near future.

"The intensity with the way the union is attempting to do this shows their desperation," Richard Ebeling, Ph.D., a business professor at the Citadel, said.

Since the petition for a union election was filed on March 16, organizers with IAM have been reaching out to Boeing workers and the Charleston community to try and ramp up support.

IAM announced it would postpone that election until sometime after October saying, "An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference has intimidated workers to the point we don't believe a free and fair election is possible."

Some experts think otherwise.

"I think they withdrew the petition because they clearly realized the vote wasn't going to go their way," Ebeling said.

He thinks that during the next six months, you're going to be seeing more from IAM organizers, as they try to get more support from these Boeing workers.

He also says while the union has suspended the home visits, they're not uncommon for elections.

"Those who want to organize unions, to talk to the membership, and try to express their views, is part of the Freedom of Speech of the country," Ebeling said.

Live 5 News contacted several police departments regarding those accusations of threats, three responded and said they had not heard of any reports like that.

A spokesperson for Boeing also responded and said these accusations, "are frivolous."

"Intimidation by either one side or the other, or this individual or the other should of course never be condoned or tolerated," Ebeling said. "Merely because you disagree with a person's point of view doesn't mean you threaten them."

The union release also said that Boeing workers had reached out to them because they wanted to be treated fairly on the job and build a better life for themselves and their families.

Ebeling believes that many workers in South Carolina would rather go without a union as part of their "right to work".

"Individuals can freely apply for employment, negotiate on more flexible terms, are more conducive to their life and family opportunities, than to have to go through the structure and union membership organization," Ebeling said.

IAM says the fight is far from over, and it will continue to go after the rights of the Boeing workers.

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