Union: Records Prove Boeing Move Was Labor Action

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Union: Records Prove Boeing Move Was Labor Action


Byline: Sam Hananel Associated Press

WASHINGTON Documents released Friday by a union in a high-profile labor dispute with Boeing Co. suggested the aerospace giant opened a new plant in Charleston, S.C., partly to escape its labor problems in Washington state, despite considering South Carolina the highest risk option.

The Machinists union said the documents bolster the National Labor Relations Board's lawsuit accusing the company of retaliating against unions in Washington state by opening a second production line for its 787 aircraft in Charleston.

The internal documents presented to Boeing's board of directors in 2009 show Boeing officials believed opening the South Carolina plant was the highest-risk option they studied with the highest likelihood of failure. Another option was to open the second line in Everett, Wash., where the company was already building the plane.

But the documents also say the South Carolina plan, dubbed "Project Gemini," would help in "rebalancing an unbalanced and uncompetitive labor relationship."

One document listing rationale supporting the South Carolina plan said it "creates a non-union, competitive labor choice" and "lowers labor costs and avoids the current hostage situation," an apparent reference to past strikes at plants in Washington, Oregon and Kansas. The same document also lists other positive reasons for choosing South Carolina, including logistical efficiency, geographic diversity and gaining political support in a key state. …

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