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Boeing illegally put second 787 line in S.C., says federal complaint

Bruce Smith
Work continued Tuesday at Boeing's new 787 aircraft assembly site in North Charleston, S.C. The plant is slated to open this summer, but federal regulators today filed a complaint alleging that the plant is being built to retaliate against the union.

Federal regulators have put the brakes on construction of a second Boeing 787 assembly line in South Carolina. 

The National Labor Relations Board today filed a complaint accusing the Boeing Company of putting one of its assembly lines for the new 787 in South Carolina to retaliate against union workers who went on strike in 2008.

Most 787s are being assembled in Everett by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The union has claimed that a second assembly line was set up at a non-union plant in in North Charleston, S.C. Today, IAM  vice-president Rich Michalski  hailed the NLRB's action:

“Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights. Federal labor law is clear: it’s illegal to threaten or penalize workers who engage in concerted activity.”

The National Labor Relations Board complaint filed on Wednesday quotes public statements by Boeing executives saying they put the plant in South Carolina in part to avoid future labor disruptions.

The government complaint says this amounts to discriminating based on union activity.

Boeing, meanwhile, said today it will "vigorously contest" the NLRB's complaint. The aerospace giant's Executive Vice President and General Counsel J. Michael Luttig said the "claim is legally frivolous and...

"...represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent. Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region."

 A hearing before an administrative law judge is planned for June 14 in Seattle.

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