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Union Looks To Delay Big Fight With Boeing

Amid controversy and growing opposition, union officials are now considering whether to postpone an organizing vote at a Boeing facility in South Carolina.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has been the target of criticism since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved its request to hold a unionizing election at the Boeing’s 787 production facility in North Charleston last month. Now the union is considering whether to postpone the election altogether.

“It wouldn’t be surrender,” Mike Evans, at organizer for IAM, told Reuters. “The campaign would continue.”

IAM spokesman Frank Larkin told Reuters that the union could reschedule the election after six months if it decided to postpone but if it went through with it and lost it couldn’t hold another one for at least 12 months. Postponing the election could signal that the union is not confident it has the votes to win.

Boeing itself has been adamantly opposed to the idea of IAM unionizing its workers in South Carolina. It was actually a labor dispute that compelled Boeing to open its plant in South Carolina instead of Everett, Wash. Boeing was founded in Seattle. A New York Times article from 2011 notes that the conflict got so bad, the NLRB accused Boeing of illegally setting up shop in South Carolina to escape union organized strikes.

However, some lawmakers became concerned that the NLRB telling Boeing it could not move would set a bad precedent.

It would also seem at least some Boeing workers have grown skeptical of whether they can even trust the union. Last week, IAM was forced to withdraw its petition to hold an election for Delta flight attendants in Georgia after the National Mediation Board (NMB) found some authorization cards were fraudulent. Though it is unclear who submitted the fraudulent signatures, Boeing took time to address the growing concern among its employees that the union was involved.

“Since the IAM withdrew its petition to represent Delta Flight Attendants following the IAM’s admission to having submitted cards not actually signed by eligible employees, we have received many questions about whether the IAM may have engaged in similar conduct with Boeing teammates,” reads a statement on We Are Boeing SC, an information website maintained by the airline.

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