Tuesday, May 10, 2011

787 North Charleston Factory becoming a hot button political issue

Wow, who'd ever thought that the 787 and the where it is built would be a hot button topic between the national political parties but there you have it. Republicans want President Obama to weigh in on the decision by the NLRB to pursue action against Boeing for locating a 2nd 787 production facility in a right to work state, South Carolina.

AS many of you all know, Boeing decided to place a 2nd assembly line for the 787 in Charleston. IAM 751 which represents Boeing machinists in Washington were incensed by the decision and filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that the decision was "payback" for four strikes, the last of which was very damaging to Boeing.

The issue, for many, is can the Union (through litigation) force a company to alter or make business decisions that it disagrees with. Not surprisingly this has many people up in arms and can be the NLRB says it's an illegal transfer of work. The problem with that argument that Boeing didn't transfer work from Everett to North Charleston. The Boeing workers in Everett didn't lose their jobs with the decision to open a 2nd line in North Charleston nor are they going to...not with a backlog of over 850 787s to be delivered. Everett will be building 7 787 per month and North Charleston 3 per month when the full currently planned production rate is realized. Thus the NLRB case maybe on shaky ground in my opinion. What does seem certain is that this will be another wedge between Boeing and IAM 751 which will do neither side any good in 2012.

In the end I agree with what Flightblogger had said...Boeing will probably agree to make the 787 surge line in building 40-24, a temporary assembly line that allowed production to be increased as North Charleston came online, to be permanent. Boeing may need to increase production anyway to get back on schedule after the three years of delays in any case. Boeing will still have North Charleston opening up in the next few weeks and it will still give them redundancy in case there is a strike in Everett.

Back to the Republicans asking Obama to weigh in on the NLRB complaint against Boeing. This also puts the President on shaky ground and he doesn't want to appear anti-business (a charge that has been frequently hurled at him) but he does need the support of the unions going into 2012. It'll be interesting to see if the White House responds but I'm willing to bet that he won't take the bait and will remain on the sidelines on this one.

CNN: Top Republicans demand Obama weigh in on Boeing dispute


Anonymous said...

I don't think the unions have a case, in this case.

Diane Wilson said...

What the unions do have is a "packed court" in the NLRB. Lots of these administrative boards have convoluted appeals processes, as well.

Obama won't step in, either. He appointed very pro-union members of the NLRB, and he's been willing to cross just about any of his constituencies except the unions. At most, he'll just stand back and say, at most, that it's up to the NLRB. Just as he's done with his Justice Department.

This is going to get ugly, especially as those NLRB appointments were recess appointments that bypassed Congress. (Because Congress wouldn't have approved their appointments....)

Jay in Kitsap said...

Boeing will be more careful when outsourcing on the next plane, but this NLRB case has hurt the chances of it being built in Seattle. A look at the auto industry and how they tried to get out of full union control would point to Boeing going overseas for the next one.