Boeing is no fan of unions, and the company went so far as to say unions don’t do what they are designed to do when it issued a response to a potential union vote in South Carolina.
The International Association of Machinists, which represents many of Boeing’s factory workers in Washington, filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday to establish a union in South Carolina, where Boeing employs about 7,500 workers. In response, Boeing said the South Carolina facilities exist despite the Machinists, so there’s no place for a union there.
A company statement bemoans the Machinists’ “years of … insulting the abilities of Boeing South Carolina teammates and fighting against BSC’s success.” In summation, “Boeing firmly believes that a union is not in the best interest of Boeing South Carolina teammates and their families, their communities, and the state of South Carolina.”
One reason companies such as Boeing loathe unions is because union-represented workers command better pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that union-protected workers on average made $3.51 more per hour in 2011 than those lacking union representation. Furthermore, workers in unions received an extra $7.11 per hour in benefits than those going solo.
So when Boeing says unions are “not in the best interest” for South Carolina workers, it’s using a metric other than compensation.
The very existence of Boeing’s South Carolina facilities is a company-vs.-union soap opera. “Boeing South Carolina teammates have done what so many people said couldn’t be done,” Beverly Wyse, Boeing South Carolina’s general manager, said in a statement. “And let’s be really clear, the IAM was not part of this success — it was our BSC teammates.”
Wyse is correct in saying the Machinists put the South Carolina facility in jeopardy, though it wasn’t the IAM that was officially crying foul — the NLRB took care of that by filing a complaint that argued Boeing opened the South Carolina plant to diminish the clout of the Machinists in Washington. The complaint was dropped when Boeing committed to building the 737 Max in Renton.