Following a momentous push to strengthen collective bargaining efforts in South Carolina, Boeing workers in North Charleston have voted not to unionize under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The secret-ballot election left the decision in the hands of almost 3,000 eligible Boeing South Carolina employees. The election was overseen by representatives from the National Labor Relations Board who handled the vote count. A simple majority was required to pass the decision. Under board rules, Boeing employees in North Charleston must now wait one year before having another vote for union representation. IAM representatives say they plan to remain in close contact with union supporters in the Charleston area moving forward.
“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.
Leading up to the vote, Evans had claimed that Boeing employees operate under a system riddled with inconsistencies and nepotism. IAM’s efforts to unionize Boeing workers drew national attention to South Carolina, a state with one of the lowest percentages of union members in the United States.
Boeing officials challenged the call to unionize, arguing that employees in North Charleston are fairly paid in the local market. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke about the pending vote earlier in the week, saying that collective bargaining for employees would undermine the benefits that drew Boeing to South Carolina.
According to a statement from Boeing, a total of 2,828 workers cast ballots with 74 percent voting against unionizing.
“We will continue to move forward as one team,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina. “We have a bright future ahead of us and are eager to focus on the accomplishments of this great team and to developing new opportunities.”
This was the first major push for collective bargaining rights involving Boeing employees since an unsuccessful effort in 2015 that never made it to vote.
Wednesday’s decision not to unionize comes just days before President Donald Trump is set to visit Boeing’s North Charleston plant for the rollout of the manufacturer’s new 787-10 model Dreamliner. The president, who has been highly critical of Boeing in the past, is scheduled to arrive at 12:30 p.m. on Friday.