Following a year long investigation, the Acting General Counsel of the NLRB has issued a complaint against The Boeing Company, alleging that the company illegally assigned work to be performed on its 787 Dreamliner airplane to a non-union South Carolina facility, rather than at the the company’s Washington and Oregon facilities, where the employees are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”).
According to the complaint, Boeing executives made public statements in late 2009 and early 2010, to the effect that “it would remove or had removed work from the [Washington/Oregon] Unit because employees had struck and Respondent [Boeing] threatened or impliedly threatened that the Unit would lose additional work in the event of future strikes . . . .”
The work at issue is that of a second 787 Dreamliner production line of three planes per month. As part of the remedy, the Acting General Counsel is seeking that Boeing be required to operate the second production line in the Washington/Oregon Unit, rather than in South Carolina. These types of “restoration” remedies are among the most aggressive the NLRB has at its disposal. In this case, whether such a remedy is even necessary may be the element that ultimately drives the litigation, particularly in light of the company’s statements reported on dailymarkets.com:
Boeing also was critical of the timing of the complaint, which comes a full 17 months after the company announced plans to expand its manufacturing capacity in the United States in South Carolina. Construction of the factory is nearly complete and the company has hired more than 1,000 new workers. Final assembly of the first airplane is slated to begin in July.
Boeing has made it clear that none of the production jobs created in South Carolina has come at the expense of jobs in Puget Sound and that not a single union member has been adversely affected. In fact, IAM employment in Puget Sound has increased by approximately 2,000 workers since the decision to expand in South Carolina was made in October 2009.
In addition to the restoration remedy, the General Counsel is seeking a “reading” remedy, in which one of the Boeing executives must read, or be present when an NLRB agent reads, any notice which may be ordered. The Agency also asks that the reading of the notice be broadcast to all employees on the company’s intranet.
A trial is scheduled to begin on June 14, 2011, in Seattle, Washington, before an NLRB administrative law judge.