Boeing wins big as South Carolina unionization effort flops

Boeing’s hourly employees in South Carolina rejected union representation today. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers was hoping to represent the roughly 3,000 eligible to vote in the election. Just ) over 2,800 voted and the results were not even close: 74% of votes cast (2,097 out of 2,828) were to reject the unionization of the workforce.

The IAMAW released a statement earlier this evening:

“We’re disappointed the workers at Boeing South Carolina will not yet have the opportunity to see all the benefits that come with union representation” said IAM lead organizer Mike Evans. “But more than anything, we are disheartened they will have to continue to work under a system that suppresses wages, fosters inconsistency and awards only a chosen few.”

Boeing’s statement was focused on moving forward with the 787 production:

“We will continue to move forward as one team,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of BSC. “We have a bright future ahead of us and we’re eager to focus on the accomplishments of this great team and to developing new opportunities.

The massive defeat for the Union could have carry-over effects in Washington state as Boeing will move towards a new “middle of market” aircraft in the next couple years. With a labor contract in Seattle set through 2024 the nonunion workforce in Charleston will seem might attractive for final assembly of that new aircraft.

Also, I cannot get over the spread in the vote. The IAMAW can try again in no less than 12 months. After a defeat this large I do wonder if they’d wait longer. Probably not, but I wonder.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. Likely that it would remove their advantage over the Seattle plant. The SC workers are well aware that the reason they have a plant at all is because of unions in Seattle, and don’t want to have the same happen to them.

    2. Actually, the political climate is vastly different in SC versus Seattle. The union scare tactics work very well and no doubt the boogie man was brought out to scare the notion of unionism out of the SC crowd. It worked. Always does south of the Mason-Dixon line. So predictable and frankly, expected. As an added bonus, the cost of living in Seattle versus SC is different. This too is a factor. If Boeing (insert company name) could build a plane in the poorest country in the world, they would.

    3. Ryan that’s a good point. I had thought about that. People are very much inclined to do what is best for the collective selves first (me, my family, my neighborhood, village, city, etc.) over the perceived greater good. Tragedy of Commons.

    4. Garrett, what’s funny is that in my earlier career within HR, I wasn’t a fan of unions, but as I have aged (matured?) and learned from a great mentor who was ironically a Big Law employment defense attorney that they can be very good (assuming good leadership, like any organization) because it keeps companies honest. It “forces” me do a better job advocating for the employees when I see leadership taking the short cut or less than honorable approach to running an organization.

  1. I have a few friends that work in the plant. The pay and benefits are excellent for the area, and because of the plant/suppliers/sub contractors the area is booming as well. Everything from housing, dining, retail, the area is just exploding with commerce. Was a shame to lose our Governor.

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