Union might postpone vote seeking to organize Boeing's South Carolina plant

Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:34pm EDT
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By Alwyn Scott

NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Labor union officials say they could postpone a vote seeking to organize 3,000 workers at Boeing Co's factory here in South Carolina if their campaign fails to gain enough traction against fierce opposition from the company and local politicians.

Organizers for the International Association of Machinists (IAM) are going door-to-door this week to gauge backing for the April 22 vote, and to make their case that union representation in the North Charleston plant would mean better pay and less taxing work schedules.

By withdrawing the petition for a vote, the union could under labor regulations reschedule the ballot after six months, but if it went through with the vote and lost it couldn't hold another one for at least 12 months, said IAM spokesman Frank Larkin.

The Post and Courier in Charleston reported last Friday that the union could withdraw its petition to hold a vote.

The union said it could make the decision about whether to postpone anytime before the vote. 

"It wouldn't be surrender," said IAM organizer Mike Evans, who is currently based in North Charleston. "The campaign would continue."

The possibility of a postponement highlights the difficulty the union faces in getting support from the 3,000 North Charleston production and maintenance workers it is trying to organize. 

The IAM enjoys strong support at Boeing's massive facilities near Seattle in Washington state, which are unionized, and has called two strikes in the last decade. But the union is finding it hard to get its message across in South Carolina, a state with the second-lowest union membership in the country.   Continued...

Workers unload a cargo plane at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, March 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Randall Hill