Machinists consider withdrawing request for next week's union vote at Boeing SC operations

Markets Associated Press

The Machinists union is considering withdrawing its request to hold a union vote next week for production employees at Boeing's manufacturing operations in North Charleston, where the aeronautics giant has a 787 Dreamliner assembly plant.

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Union spokesman Frank Larkin said Wednesday that any decision to withdraw the petition would be "based on the results of the house polling effort that is currently underway to determine levels of support."

He said no decision on delaying the vote has been made but "it is something being considered." He said there is no timetable for a decision.

The Machinists petitioned the National Labor Relations Board last month to hold a union election on April 21. Almost 3,200 of the approximately 7,500 Boeing workers in South Carolina are eligible to vote.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, is strongly opposed to the union and has been urging workers to reject union representation. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has also criticized the unionization effort.

The Associated Press left a message with Boeing seeking comment.

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While 30 percent of the workers in a potential bargaining unit must sign cards that they want a union vote, a majority would have to approve union representation.

If the Machinists withdraw their petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board, it would be at least six months before an election could be held. If workers reject a union in a vote, it would be at least a year before another vote could be held.

National Labor Relations Board spokeswoman Jessica Kahanek said the union could withdraw the petition for the vote any time prior to ballots being cast.

The union vote would involve production workers at the company's 787 assembly plant and the nearby Interiors Responsibility Center, which provides interior parts for the 787 Dreamliner. The vote also includes production workers at the company's new propulsion plant.

Four years ago, shortly before the company opened the $750 million facility, the NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing alleging that the nonunion plant was built in retaliation against Washington state workers who went on strike.

The NLRB dropped the complaint later, after Boeing agreed that the 737 Max would be built in Washington.