S.C. Boeing exec sends workers anti-union email

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The general manager of Boeing’s plant in South Carolina has sent an email telling his workers that Boeing wants to keep the plant union free.

“I want to be clear that it’s Boeing’s desire to remain union-free in South Carolina so we can keep the open culture of collaboration between teammates that we’re all working hard to build. I firmly believe a union is not in your best interest, nor is it in the best interest of our company, our BSC site, our customers, nor our community,” Jack Jones wrote in the email obtained by The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have kept up with Boeing workers since the plant came to North Charleston. The discussion of unions is especially sensitive after the fight between the union and Boeing after the company announced its South Carolina assembly plant. Union officials said the North Charleston plant was built in retaliation for workers striking at the company’s Washington plants. The National Labor Relations Board filed a lawsuit that was later settled.

Jones’ email sent out Tuesday was titled “The IAM is back, and they want your money.”

“Boeing communicates regularly with its employees to make sure they’re informed on a wide variety of subjects,” company spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said in an email.

The email wasn’t all that unusual and Boeing has sent similar messages in group meetings at the plant, said Tommy Mayfield, the IAM Grand Lodge representative for the Southern territory.

“The thing with Jack, that’s fine,” Mayfield said when reached by phone by the newspaper, before clarifying Jones’ opening line. “But we haven’t left. We’ve always been here.”

Mayfield is collecting authorization cards that would allow workers to vote on whether to unionize. He will have to get support from at least 30 percent of the proposed bargaining unit. He wouldn’t say how many cards he has collected so far, but said he expects a vote before the end of the year.

“I received several cards yesterday,” Mayfield said, referring to an informational meeting he hosted at a North Charleston hotel.

The International Association of Machinists has had members in the Charleston area before. The union won representation rights at Vought Aircraft Industries in November 2007, but was run out less than two years later.

Jones’ email told employees that executives were still trying to work out problems that pop up at a new plant. He also told them they have the right to talk to union members about joining, but they also can ask to be left alone.

“Boeing is committed to and invested in South Carolina and our BSC teammates, but our success hinges on our ability to continue working together, directly, without a third party, to solve issues,” Jones wrote. “Let’s keep up the good work and prove to the world that we can continue to grow at BSC together as one team without the distraction that a union brings.”

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