Machinists to meet Boeing workers in S.C.; 787 production progress

Boeing Co. workers in South Carolina have been contacted by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers about a meeting next week.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal reported Wednesday that the union mailed information to Boeing employees in North Charleston about the informational meeting on Tuesday.

The union has kept in contact with supporters and wants to share information about collective bargaining with interested Boeing hourly workers, a union spokesman in the region told the publication. Boeing is trying to make its North Charleston site a place where workers “can speak for themselves,” a company spokeswoman told the business journal.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state – a point of pride for Gov. Nikki Haley, who slammed “union bullying bosses” in a recent speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The Machinists union was voted out of representing workers at a Boeing 787 assembly site in South Carolina in September 2009. The union represented Boeing employees at the former Vought site in North Charleston where fuselage sections for the 787 are made. Boeing selected the site for a second final assembly line for the Dreamliner a month after its workers ousted the union at the North Charleston.

The company’s pick of North Charleston over Everett, where the original 787 final assembly line is located, prompted a federal lawsuit. The National Labor Relations Board, acting on behalf of the Machinists, alleged the company’s pick was an act of illegal retaliation against the local Machinists district for labor strikes in the Puget Sound region. Boeing denied the charge. The lawsuit was dropped last year when Boeing agreed to keep future 737 MAX work in Renton and the union ratified a new contract.

787 progress

Boeing is on track to meet production goals on the 787, reports Reuters.

A Boeing executive described the ramp up as a “very difficult target.” The company is at a production rate of 3.5 787s monthly, moving up to five monthly by the end of 2012 and 10 monthly by the end of next year.

The ramp up could reveal bottlenecks in the supply chain, noted a manager for Fuji Heavy Industries, a 787 supplier.

Boeing’s already close to a production rate of five 787s monthly, according to this blog post.