Boeing South Carolina has given the National Labor Relations Board the names and addresses of 3,175 workers at its production facilities in North Charleston who are eligible to vote April 22 on whether they want to be represented by the International Association of Machinists union.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nikki Haley used a stop Wednesday at The Rotary Club of Summerville to once again blast the IAM’s attempts to organize the Boeing plant — something Haley said she plans to continue doing over the next three weeks.
“My job is to make sure I protect the workforce and we’ve got good workers at Boeing and I remember what these out–of-staters (union officials) did,” Haley said. “What I’m doing is just calling them out on the table. … I want our workforce to remember that if it were up to the IAM, there would be no Boeing in Charleston.”
Haley has said the IAM played a role in NLRB efforts to stop production at the Boeing plant in 2011, amid claims that Boeing used the South Carolina facility for an illegal transfer of work to a nonunion site. The IAM has termed Haley’s version of events “Boeing’s big lie.” The union says it raised concerns with the NLRB because it was looking out for the interests of its members in Washington state, the same it would do for those in South Carolina.
Compiling the list of eligible workers is part of the election process overseen by the NLRB, which has supplied union officials with a copy of document. The deadline for Boeing to file the list was Tuesday.
“We wish we were not required to release this information, and we reiterate — it’s only because we are required to by law,” Boeing officials said on the WeAreBoeingSC.com website, which provides anti-union information to workers and others.
“We anticipate the IAM will significantly ramp up home visits and mailings to BSC teammates after obtaining these home addresses,” a statement on the website says. “We hope the IAM will respect the privacy of our teammates’ homes and families.”
Union spokesman Frank Larkin said the IAM will use the list to encourage eligible workers to vote in favor of representation. That includes doing face-to-face visits at workers’ home or at the IAM’s office on Dorchester Road.
“A lot of those house visits are at the worker’s request, because they don’t feel comfortable talking about it on the shop floor,” Larkin said. “And a lot of time the decisions are made jointly by workers and their spouses. The spouse can have as many questions as the worker.”
Union representatives have been meeting with Boeing workers for more than a year, but those efforts will intensify as the election draws closer.
Those eligible to vote include all full-time and regular part-time production and maintenance workers at Boeing’s Dreamliner manufacturing facility adjacent to Charleston International Airport, as well as those at the company’s Interiors Responsibility Center and the newly opened Propulsion South Carolina plant, both at Palmetto Commerce Park.
The question on the April 22 ballot will call for a simple “yes” or “no” answer as to whether the voter wants to be represented by the Machinists union. The results will be tabulated immediately following the conclusion of the last voting session, which is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. Challenges to the voting process could be filed afterward.
The IAM’s attempt to organize workers at the Boeing plant has been contentious, with both sides accusing the other of misinformation. Boeing and the union have bought radio advertisements and billboards and used websites and social media to get their viewpoints across. Haley also stepped into the fray, calling the IAM a “bully” and “hypocrites” and vowing to fight the union.
On Wednesday, Haley said she’s telling union officials: “Get out. We got here without you. We don’t need you in the process.”
Most recently, Boeing posted a video to its website, “How Union Strikes Affect a Family: A Personal Story,” in which Joey Peluso, an engineering technical specialist, tells how his uncle lost his home and car due to an autoworkers’ strike.
“I’m not willing to risk my well-being on somebody else’s decision,” Peluso said in the video. “For my family, a strike basically ruined their life.”
Boeing also has produced two radio advertisements warning that “out-of-state union bosses” could force local workers to strike.
“That’s not the case,” Larkin said, adding that Boeing is using the possibility of a strike as a scare tactic. “No strike can take place unless the members themselves at the site vote for it.”
The IAM last month presented its petition for a vote to the NLRB, getting what union officials called a “significant number” of Boeing workers to sign authorization cards expressing interest in union representation. The IAM had to get at least 30 percent of eligible workers to sign cards.
The IAM is the nation’s largest aerospace union, representing more than 35,000 Boeing workers at 24 locations nationwide, including at the company’s Washington state facilities. The union also represents approximately 90,000 workers at Lockheed Martin, General Electric, United Technologies and other companies.
The Post and Courier staff writer Brenda Rindge contributed to this report
Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_