Boeing: Union vote fails, 74 percent vote against joining IAM

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - After a day of voting by thousands of Boeing workers and tallying by national labor officials, officials announced Wednesday night that Boeing workers would not be joining the International Association of Machinists union.

Boeing officials issued a statement Wednesday night saying of the 3,000 people who could vote, 2,828 voted. Of those, 74 percent voted against joining the union.

“We will continue to move forward as one team,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of BSC. “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."

IAM leaders expressed their disappointment at the result.

“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. “But more than anything, we are disheartened they will have to continue to work under a system that suppresses wages, fosters inconsistency and awards only a chosen few.”

Months of heated debate and constant advertisements for and against the union came down to Wednesday night's results.

Boeing has been outspoken about its opposition, saying the union does not have workers' best interests in mind. The aerospace giant says expensive union dues will do more harm than good for North Charleston workers.

The arguments appeared to have worked. IAM officials commented on the flood of ads on radio and TV in a statement.

“Boeing management spent a lot of money to make sure power and profits remained concentrated at the very top. The company’s anti-union conduct reached new lows,” said Evans. “The IAM remains committed to getting Boeing South Carolina workers the respect, wages and consistency they deserve.”

Union officials argued that employees deserve better pay, more benefits, and secure contracts from Boeing.

The decision by Boeing's workers precedes President Donald Trump's first visit to South Carolina on Friday. During the campaign, Trump warned workers at the Boeing facility that without him as president, Boeing would be closing up shop and moving to China within five years.

The White House has not released a statement on the vote.

“Friday we will mark the most recent incredible accomplishment in the proud history of the BSC team with the rollout of the first 787-10,” said Robinson-Berry. “It is great to have this vote behind us as we come together to celebrate that event.”

South Carolina has the lowest percentage of union members in the United States.

According to NLRB rules, workers must wait at least one year before they can hold another vote. IAM officials say they plan on staying close with Boeing South Carolina workers during that time and see what they can do to help them moving forward.

“Ultimately it will be the workers who dictate what happens next,” said Evans. “We’ve been fortunate enough to talk with hundreds of Boeing workers over the past few years. Nearly every one of them, whether they support the union or not, have improvements they want to see at Boeing. Frankly, they deserve better.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the process was rigged from the beginning against the Boeing members who wanted to join the union.

"The fact is, brave workers at Boeing were seeking a better life but they faced insurmountable odds and were met with a corporate bankrolled campaign to silence them. Their efforts are part of an undeniable wave of workers in the South standing together and speaking out for a fair share of the wealth we help create," Trumka said.

"Today’s vote is not the end. It is part of the resurgence of working families changing the rules of our economy and through unions, creating an America where wages and benefits are strong."