Lowcountry employment attorney analyzes Boeing union vote

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Boeing plans to appeal a vote held Thursday by flightline workers to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, while those workers are looking at their next steps.

"A union is a group of workers that are organized to bargain and negotiate for their rights and benefits with their employer," employment attorney Marybeth Mullaney said. Mullaney's law firm is based out of Mount Pleasant.

Last year, Boeing employees in North Charleston voted not to unionize.

This year, 176 flight-line workers voted 104 to 65 to join the IAM.

"The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found were an appropriate group or unit to vote to become members of IAM," Mullaney said. "Boeing will take the position that they don't have to recognize this unit because it's not valid and they should not have been allowed to take this vote for this particular group of employees."

Representatives with the IAM see things differently.

"They believe the NLRB found they can take this vote and can agree to be part of the union," Mullaney said.

Unions are allowed in South Carolina, despite the state being a "right to work" state.

"An employee in South Carolina can be fired or terminated for any reason or no reason at all, however, they cannot be terminated for any reason that would violate federal law," Mullaney said, adding that under the national labor relations act, you cannot be fired for joining or not joining a union.

"This is just the beginning of a long, legal journey for this group of employees in South Carolina before Boeing will officially recognize and acknowledge their right to be part of the union," Mullaney said.

Boeing released a statement indicating their intent to appeal because they believe it is federally prohibited. The case can go before the NLRB or the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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