Washington State Congressional Delegation Shows Support for IAM Boeing SC Workers

As first reported by The Stand (A news service of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions), the Washington State congressional delegation sent a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and Machinists Union International President Robert Martinez Jr. The letter expresses the delegation’s dissatisfaction with the explanations Boeing used to justify the employees’ termination and for the lack of progress in bargaining between Boeing and the lAM.

In May 2018, Boeing flight readiness technicians and inspectors in South Carolina voted to join the IAM. Since then, Boeing has refused to negotiate with the IAM. Since last year’s vote, six people have been terminated for showing their union support.

“We are aware that six Boeing workers at the South Carolina facility, each of whom reportedly supported unionization, were discharged in late 2018,” reads the letter.  “We are compelled to express our dissatisfaction with the explanations used to justify these employees’ termination and for the lack of progress in bargaining between Boeing and the lAMAW.”

Signers of the letter included U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith and Denny Heck.

The letter sent June 3 from Washington’s congressional delegation reads:

Dear Mr. Muilenburg and Mr. Martinez, Jr.:

We understand that a group of workers at Boeing’s South Carolina facility voted overwhelmingly in favor of unionizing with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (lAMAW) nearly a year ago. Many of us have previously written to encourage Boeing and lAMAW to respect the decision of those workers who advocated and voted in favor of unionization.

We are aware that six Boeing workers at the South Carolina facility, each of whom reportedly supported unionization, were discharged in late 2018. We are compelled to express our dissatisfaction with the explanations used to justify these employees’ termination and for the lack of progress in bargaining between Boeing and the lAMAW.

It is our understanding that three of the six dismissed employees were discharged for missing a bird strike on an airplane engine in a post-flight inspection. However, according to public record, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigated this matter and found that there was no engine damage and no indication of a bird ingestion consistent with a bird strike that would render the aircraft unairworthy.

We share our constituents’ concern about this discrepancy, and it is on their behalf that we request that the Boeing Company provide answers to the following questions:

  • How can the company account for the discrepancy between its own findings regarding the alleged bird strike incident that led to the termination of three Boeing employees and those of the FAA, which did not substantiate this incident?
  • How was the decision to terminate these employees made, and was that decision reconsidered following the FAA’s subsequent investigation?
  • Did the terminated employees have an opportunity to appeal their dismissal following the FAA’s investigation?
  • What steps is the company taking to ensure timely recognition of unions that workers elect to form at Boeing facilities?

We have seen firsthand the benefits of a unionized workforce. Unions make the workforce stronger, the workplace safer, and the work itself more efficient. IAMAW has played a crucial role in Boeing’s achievement and will be integral in its continued success. We encourage Boeing and the lAMAW to continue good-faith negotiations and resolve this matter.

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Updated: June 20, 2019 — 8:20 am