Today, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced it was providing free legal aid to three South Carolina Boeing Employees, who are moving to intervene in a case brought by the Obama National Labor Relations Board and IAM union bosses that would to shut down production at Boeing’s Charleston Dreamliner facility.
A copy of the Foundation’s motion to intervene includes statements from the three Boeing employees, who explain their negative experiences with IAM union officials and their reasons for speaking out against the NLRB’s attempt to move production of the Boeing Dreamliner back to (non-Right to Work) Washington State.
Dennis Murray, one of the intervenors, describes his history with the IAM before Vought, his old employer, was acquired by Boeing:
"When I went to work at Vought in 2008, the IAM had been voted in as the employees’ exclusive bargaining representative, but they were just negotiating a first contract. In November 2008, an IAM representative called an emergency meeting but only told twelve of the 200 union members in the unit about the meeting. A total of thirteen employees attended the meeting and those few in attendance ratified the IAM’s contract by a vote for 12-1. Many of the provisions of the new IAM contract were worse than what Vought employees already had without a contract. For example, employees lost medical, dental, and short term disability. The Vought employees were then extremely unhappy with the IAM’s actions. This unhappiness was exacerbated by subsequent layoffs that lasted from three weeks to five months."
Like many other Charleston-based Boeing employees, Murray is concerned that he’ll lose his job if the NLRB forces Boeing to move back to Washington:
"It seems clear that many Charleston-based employees and I would lose our jobs with Boeing in South Carolina if the General Counsel’s proposed remedy is adopted. The current unemployment rate here is high and jobs are scarce. If I lose my job, my family will be devastated . . ."
Cynthia Ramaker, another Boeing employee, also encountered the IAM’s backroom dealings before Boeing acquired Vought:
"In general there was not much communication between the IAM and the employees."
"Of the 200 union members in the unit only 13 attended the contract ratification meeting. Those few in attendance ratified the IAM’s contract by vote of 12-1. Many of the provisions of the new IAM contract were worse than what Vought employees already had without a contract . . . Employees lost medical, dental, and short term disability. Additionally, dues were set to increase, although this requirement was later reduced due to the strong backlash in the unit."
Ramaker, a former IAM union official, also opposes the NLRB’s efforts to shut down Dreamliner production:
"I am not surprised by the Unfair Labor Practice filed by the IAM in Seattle/Everett against Boeing. They are violating my right to work with a choice. Isn’t that what being an American is all about?"
Like Murray, she worries about the consequences of shutting down the Boeing facility:
"I understand that the NLRB General Counsel’s remedy in this case will force Boeing to discontinue the final assembly and delivery work in Charleston, and transfer it to Seattle. This remedy is grossly unfair and would devastate our community and thousands of families."
The third intervenor, Meredith Going, Sr., is also concerned about his own job prospects if Boeing is forced to shut down production:
"The current unemployment rate here is high and jobs are scarce. Many people I know would like to work at Boeing if they could. I am 65 years old, and was unemployed for over a year before I got this job with Boeing. Before coming to Boeing, I was laid off from my previous job in the automobile finance business. If I lose my job with Boeing, I’d have to go back on unemployment . . . I am sure that any unemployment I would receive would run out quickly, and at my age getting a good job with good wages and benefits like what I have here with Boeing is extremely difficult."
The statements from these employees give you an idea of what’s at stake here. If the NLRB and the IAM successfully force Boeing to shut down the Dreamliner production line, South Carolina stands to lose over 1,000 existing jobs and thousands more once the plant is in full production.
The NLRB’s unprecedented move would be devastating to these employees and to their entire community, which is why they’ve stepped forward to defend their rights and their jobs.