Labor board sides with Boeing on ‘micro-unit’ challenge

VIDEO: Labor board sides with Boeing on ‘micro-unit’ challenge

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The National Labor Relations Board ruled Monday a petitioned-for unit at Boeing’s South Carolina plant included too few employees to conduct a union election.

The decision resolves a petition filed by the International Association of Machinists Union for a unit limited to only two job classifications within an aircraft production line. That would have created a group of approximately 178 mechanics out of a workforce totaling over 2700 employees.

Boeing argued that the mechanics – flight-line readiness technicians and flight-line readiness technician inspectors – must be included in the larger community of workers at the aircraft production plant where the Company’s 787 Dreamliner is built.

The Board set a three-step analysis for determining whether a petitioned-for unit is appropriate. Under that analysis, the Board will consider:

  1. Whether the members of the petitioned-for unit share a community of interest with each other,
  2. Whether the employees excluded from the unit have meaningfully distinct interests in the context of collective bargaining that outweigh similarities with unit members, and
  3. Guidelines the Board has established for appropriate unit configurations in specific industries.

In reaching its decision, the Board found that the mechanics in the petitioned-for unit did not share an internal community of interest and did not have sufficiently distinct interests from those employees excluded from the petitioned-for unit. The Board also concluded that there were no appropriate-unit guidelines specific to the employer’s industry.

“We are pleased that the Board agreed that the IAM’s attempt to isolate our flight line teammates from the rest of the site is prohibited by federal law,” Boeing 787 Program Vice President Brad Zaback said in a statement Monday. “With the clarity that today’s NLRB decision brings, we will go forward as one Boeing South Carolina team to work with our teammates directly, to meet tomorrow’s challenges, and continue the site’s great work to build the world’s most advanced airplanes.”

The Machinists Union issued a statement saying the decision, which it called unprincipled, will not stop its organizing campaign at Boeing.

“We will not relent or back down. We are staying in North Charleston,” union spokesman DeLane Adams said. “This decision is irresponsible and reckless. American workers are under attack from those who value corporations over working families. We stand with the Flight Line and all workers at Boeing South Carolina and justice will prevail when their voices are recognized.”

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