Boeing vows to fight NLRB complaint

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published April 21, 2011

The Boeing Co. vowed Wednesday to fight the complaint filed by National Labor Relations Board, calling the complaint “legally frivolous.”

The company will contest the complaint, which was filed by the labor relations board after it received a complaint from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

“This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent,” J. Michael Luttig, executive vice president and general counsel for Boeing, said in the news release. “Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region.”

Puget Sound in Washington State was contending for the second 787 assembly line, but talks fell through in 2009, when the union and company couldn’t reach an agreement.

The company also questioned the complaint’s timing, 17 months after Boeing announced its plans to expand to South Carolina. The final assembly and delivery plant in North Charleston is nearly completed, and the company has hired more than 1,000 new workers.

Those new hires haven’t affected Puget Sound, though, according to Boeing. Union employment in Puget Sound has increased by 2,000 since Boeing announced plans to expand to North Charleston, the company said.

Several S.C. public officials came to Boeing’s defense soon after the complaint was filed, including Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina’s Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham. All three blasted the NLRB for its action saying it was doing the dirty work for the Machinists union.

“This is an absolute assault on a great corporate citizen and on South Carolina’s right-to-work status. We will continue to do everything we can to protect that status and to stand with companies like Boeing who understand what it means to take care of their employees without the interference of a meddlesome, self-serving union. This bullying will not be tolerated in South Carolina,” Haley said.

Boeing plans to start building 787s in North Charleston this summer, despite the complaint.

“We fully expect to complete our new, state-of-the-art facility in South Carolina in the weeks ahead,” Luttig said in the news release. “And we will be producing 787s — America’s next great export — from our factories in both Puget Sound and South Carolina for decades to come.”

Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3411

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