[image-1] Boeing is feeling the burn after the plane manufacturer fired six employees who supported a union effort back in May.
In a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio accused the company of mounting a “campaign of intimidation” against flight readiness technicians at the company’s North Charleston campus.
In May, technicians voted 104-65 in favor of joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). In the days leading up to the vote, Boeing mounted an aggressive “vote no” campaign that included a voter guide for workers to to oppose efforts to organize. Boeing is currently appealing its employees’ vote with the National Labor Relations Board.
[content-1] Now, Sens. Sanders and Brown are saying the company retaliated against workers who sought representation.
“It is alarming that instead of negotiating with the IAMAW, Boeing has instead pursued a campaign of intimidation against the flight readiness technicians,” the senators wrote.
“We understand that six of the technicians have been terminated at the plant. We understand further that all were involved in the successful effort of the flight readiness technicians to form a union and elect the IAMAW as their representative in collective bargaining.”
The union already represents more than 35,000 Boeing employees at 24 different locations, but the May vote was the first time the union’s efforts were successful at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston.
“The facts will show that these dedicated and experienced Flight Line workers were unjustly terminated,” said Machinists Union International President Robert Martinez Jr. in a statement. “Now, six South Carolina families are in chaos just days before the holidays.”
The Machinists union has set up a GoFundMe page for the fired workers. So far, the campaign has raised over $31,000.
In a statement provided to CP on Friday, Boeing said there was no retaliation against anyone based on the union vote.
“Boeing follows a robust process to ensure termination decisions are fully evaluated and consistent with long-standing, visible and objective safety, compliance and conduct policies,” the company said. “In each of the cases that the IAM highlights, the individual was terminated for violating well-established, consistently applied policies without regard to union sentiment.”
The company also disputes the senators’ claims that only one other flight readiness technician has been fired since the plant opened.
South Carolina, a “right-to-work” state, has the lowest percentage of employees represented by unions in the entire country, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 3.9 percent of workers are represented by unions, and only 2.6 percent of workers have direct membership to a union or employee association.