Earlier this month, Claude Harrell, the National Labor Relations Board’s regional director in Atlanta, announced that the Board was dismissing a complaint filed against the Boeing Company by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The complaint, which was filed on April 17 after the IAM wrapped up an unsuccessful organizing campaign at Boeing’s Charleston, SC plant, alleged that Boeing encouraged “harassment, assaults, and threats of violence against union supporters.”
Specifically, the union’s complaint alleged that the company encouraged individuals to harass union supporters in retaliation for a scheduled union election, which was set to take place on April 22, 2015. In a statement accompanying the charges, the union further alleged that a company employee threatened two union supporters at gunpoint while those supporters were making an uninvited “home visit” in order to attempt to persuade the employee to vote for the union.
But the election never took place because the union chose to withdraw its petition for election on April 17, citing a “toxic atmosphere” of misinformation put forward by the company in the run-up to the vote. As such, the IAM cannot refile a petition for election for at least six months. And in order to file a new petition for election, the union must collect union authorization cards from at least thirty percent of the proposed bargaining unit members (and those cards will likely be highly-scrutinized after allegations of forgery arose during the IAM’s failed organizing campaign at Delta earlier this year resulted in an investigation by the Department of Justice).
In a short statement, a Boeing spokesman praised the Board’s decision:
“We said when the IAM filed these charges that they were frivolous, and we’re happy to receive confirmation that the NLRB agrees that these are baseless allegations,” Boeing South Carolina spokesman Rob Gross said Tuesday.
Not surprisingly, a union spokesman announced that the IAM was considering whether or not to appeal the dismissal. To do so, it would have to file its appeal documents by June 3.
Regardless of whether the IAM ultimately appeals the dismissal, Boeing can expect the union to continue to attempt to organize the Charleston facility, despite high-profile setbacks resulting from failed organizing efforts at Delta this spring and Northrop Grumman in 2014. But the union can expect stiff political opposition from South Carolina’s notoriously anti-union Governor, Nikki Haley, and other major politicos in the “right to work” Palmetto state. So any “second bite at the apple” by the union could lead to nothing more than a mouth full of worm-guts. In any event, we’ll make sure to keep you posted.