Boeing’s South Carolina operation is making labor news once again – this time for firing workers after they organized.
“Richard Mester worked for Boeing in South Carolina as a flight safety inspector for five years before being suddenly fired – along with two other employees – in November 2018 for allegedly failing to report a bird strike. However, the bad news also came shortly after the company was told Mester had been elected a union steward.
‘I have 30 years’ experience as an engine guy, so I was taken back by it because I don’t miss bird strikes,’ Mester told the Guardian.
An air force veteran, Mester had just bought a house and had two daughters in college when he was terminated. Mester and his colleagues have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging there was no bird strike at all, but rather that this is an excuse to fire workers involved in unionization efforts.
‘It was easy to see it was because we were union members,’ said Mester. ‘Boeing has no qualms about squashing any possibility of a union down here. Unfortunately we were the result of that.’
Mester and his colleagues believe their plight is intrinsically linked to Boeing’s attempts to stifle unionization of the workforce in its important South Carolina operations – a workplace that has become an important battleground for both America’s labor movement and the aircraft giant.
Boeing’s mere presence in South Carolina was already viewed as a union-busting move when the company first opened an aircraft production plant there in 2011 rather than Washington state, where Boeing had unionized operations. South Carolina has the lowest union membership rate in the United States at just 2.7% of workers. The National Labor Relations Board filed a federal complaint against Boeing for the move, accusing the company of violating federal labor law, before dropping it after the company came to an agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
Since then, Boeing has fought to prevent unionization efforts of their workers in South Carolina. In February 2017, union organizers came up short in attempting to unionize about 3,000 Boeing workers. But organizers found success in May 2018, when over 60% of the nearly 200 Boeing flight line workers in North Charleston, South Carolina, voted to form a union, despite an aggressive anti-union campaign led by Boeing which included radio ad buys and attempts to delay and stop the election from occurring.”
For the rest of the story, visit The Guardian here.