These Are the Issues Your Co-workers Asked Us to Address

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At the IAM’s last informational meeting, a few questions arose which your co-workers who are currently assisting the organizing drive want to share directly with you. They felt the discussion and answers to their questions, which were answered by the IAM, would also benefit those of you who did not attend the meeting.

Can the IAM ensure that if we get to another election with authorization cards it will not be cancelled?

When a majority of Boeing workers submit authorization cards, the IAM will file for an election. Rest assured that an election will happen this time around. With that said, it’s important to understand why the first election was cancelled.

Many times in large organizing campaigns, companies use expensive anti-union law firms that spread a rash of half-truths and lies. They also confuse workers with “information overload” and the old “give us a second chance” routine. That was exactly what Boeing did last year. Removing Jack Jones and bringing in Beverly Wyse, for instance, was all a choreographed effort to get a “second chance.” And these tactics were successful because they came at a time in the campaign where the IAM didn’t have enough time to counter the wave of misinformation.

The union campaign started to lose support, not because people didn’t want the union, but because they were being bombarded with scare tactics from the company. The union, meanwhile, was only able to speak to a fraction of the workforce. It was made clear at the time cancelling was a possibility because the tactics being deployed by the company were infringing on your right to have an election absent intimidation and harassment.

Today Boeing is still trying to scare workers. Just look at the billboards on Dorchester Road or the videos on the company’s Facebook page. Now that the second chance has played out and nothing has changed, hopefully you will see through the tricks and lies.

When is the next election?

Whenever a majority of workers at Boeing South Carolina sign an authorization card. You must, however, sign an authorization card dated after April 22, 2015. If an authorization card was submitted prior to the April 22, 2015 election it is no longer valid. The law does not allow authorization cards to be used twice when filing for an election. What that means is all authorization cards submitted to the National Labor Relations Board in April 2015, which is all cards filled out prior to that date, are no longer valid. The best thing anybody can do is simply submit an authorization card today at Boeingworkers.com.

What about bumping?

During the early stages of the organizing drive, Boeing convinced many workers that if the IAM was voted in, the workers from other IAM locations would have bumping rights to the South Carolina facility. That was an absolute, flat out lie – just another scare tactic from the company. Ironically, the company continued to bring in workers with Boeing time and applied Boeing time as seniority -thereby bumping down BSC workers. All the while, a union contract could have kept that from happening in the Boeing South Carolina plant.

How will seniority work going forward?

Seniority rights are something that will have to be negotiated between your negotiating committee and Boeing. Your negotiating committee will be made up of your co-workers and IAM staff. Your co-workers who have attended meetings want to see a contract that protects the BSC workers going forward. For example, the seniority for any new hire into BSC for layoff, promotion and shift preference would begin on their physical start date at BSC. To be fair to the current workers in BSC who have accumulated Boeing time from other locations, they will keep their seniority. A union contract will fix the seniority issue going forward.

Whenever the company wants to avoid their own policy or procedure they always use the term “Manager Discretion.” How will that work with a contract?

A collective bargaining agreement is a binding contract that is enforceable between the workers and the company. The company’s negotiating committee and your negotiating committee will work on coming to an agreement on things like work rules, seniority rights, wages and benefits, and more. You, the membership, will have the final decision to accept or reject what was decided at the table. You and your co-workers will vote on the contract. The committees come up with rules which are fair and reasonable. When a manager or supervisor infringes upon that contractual language, the worker has the right to call his/her union steward and have the contract language enforced.

Will the union run the shop floor?

Absolutely not. It remains the company’s responsibility to hire, fire and discipline. The over used phrase “the union only protects the lazy” is simply not true. Management always reserves the right to fire. The difference being, with a union, the punishment must fit the crime and the company must have “just cause” to implement discipline. The union protects good workers from nepotism, favoritism and unfair discipline. If an individual is disciplined because they truly did something wrong and does not change their behavior, then there is nothing the union can do to save that person from discipline or being terminated. The union wants the same thing as you and your co-workers want. As a work force we have to go to work and be productive. A good day’s pay for an honest day’s work. The work has to get done and the customer needs to rely on quality and timeliness. That is exactly why the Boeing Company and IAM members at other locations participate in improving everything from safety to production. But those IAM members enjoy the benefits of a contract.

Are there other IAM members in the area?

There are four contracts, including Kapstone Paper, L-3 Communications, Eagle Systems and Services, and the Delaware Resource Group. This does not include the workers at the Charleston airport that work for one of the major airlines. It is safe to say all the contracts mentioned above provide higher wages, good benefits, enforceable rules and protections for the workers. In all four of the locations, union membership is over 90%, with some at 100%. The high participation is because the workers understand the value of having a fair contract and a voice at work.

What about new hires that start at much higher pay rates than those that been with the company for many years?

The example given comes out of building 30. After the last leveling pay rate increase, Boeing offered contractors a rate of $17.75. (I assume) the contractors knew the rate was low compared to the industry standard and for the experience they brought to the job. A majority rejected Boeing’s first offer of $17.74 and the company came back with a much higher second offer in the area of $22.00 per hour. This demonstrates what is possible when workers stick together. The $22.00 per hour exceeds the current hourly pay of those individuals in the same area with similar responsibilities. This doesn’t mean the new hires are being overpaid. They did the right thing and are still nowhere close to being overpaid based on what others receive under a union contract for the same responsibilities in Washington State. I applaud those contractors. Actually this is an example about how the company took advantage of so many for so long, and continues to do so. Today many workers that already have dedicated years of service make much less than $22.00 per hour. A union contract will recognize folks as they build experience through time. It is safe to say the more years you put in to the job the more productive you become. That dedication should be reflected in pay increases you can rely on and not BGOs. Now you know why the company doesn’t want anybody talking about their pay out on the shop floor.

What about BGO – Business Goal Objectives?

As everybody knows, BGOs are very subjective and questionable. Can you rely on the BGO process to be fair for income? With a contract, you can rely on what you will be earning based on your time with the company. As you accumulate years with the company, you become more of an asset. You know your job, you are more productive, and your pay will reflect that in a union contract. In the current Everett, Washington contract, you know exactly when you will receive a raise that you can rely on when making life decisions. Most workers at BSC don’t realize Everett workers must be at top rate within their current classification by their 6 year anniversary date. Here in South Carolina, you don’t even know what your top rate is. You just can’t rely on something as subjective as the BGO process. The BGO process is designed to generate competition between workers that will keep wages down for everybody. The union contract provides for fair raises based on the person becoming more valuable to the company as time goes on. A union contract treats you as a valuable member of the workforce, a bread winner at home, and part of the community. Which sounds like the better deal – relying on the current subjective management BGO process? Or a guaranteed raise in pay on a known schedule based on work experience that is fair and free from favoritism?