Boeing vs. the Union (and the NLRB)

It looks like the National Labor Relations Board is trying to punish Boeing for having the audacity to run its own business rather than cater to one of its unions, the International Association of Machinists. The company is trying to open a factory in notably non-union South Carolina.

The factory would contain a second line to build the 787 airliner away from the threat of union strikes. It seems strikes have cost the company several billion dollars and long delays in delivering planes to customers over the last 20 years or so, or at least that's what Boeing claims.

But building the new plant in S.C. — a two billion-dollar plant close to completion with 1,000 people already hired to staff it — was an act of retaliation against the IAM for their past strike activity, according to the IAM and, apparently, the NRLB.

If the NRLB sides with the Union and the Courts agree that Boeing broke the law, 787 production will have to be in Puget Sound. But I am sure those union bigwigs are correct in thinking that Boeing, along with every other manufacturing company, will think twice about where to build their next plants. They will likely build future factories overseas, out of the reach of the NRLB. Hope that will make everyone happy.

Here are more details from a few different perspectives.

Perspective #1 — Boeing was retaliating illegally against its largest union

Perspective #2 — Boeing possibly violated federal labor law by moving airplane production

Perspective #3 — Boeing executives publicly announced their avoidance of strikes, and that's where they went wrong

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A questioning, sometimes humorous look at technologies, engineering, and the world.

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Stephen Mraz

Steve serves as Senior Editor of Machine Design.  He has 23 years of service and has a B.S. Biomedical Engineering from CWRU. Steve was a E-2C Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy. He...
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