About seven years ago, Boeing was ramping up to build its newest passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner. The company explored making all the planes at its factories in Washington state, but in 2009, it decided to start a second, smaller production line in South Carolina. The union plants in Puget Sound would make seven planes a month; the non-union facility in North Charleston, S.C. would produce three a month.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers complained. The NLRB’s general counsel tried to bring the parties together, but failed. In April 2011, the general counsel’s office formally started a hearing process against Boeing on the grounds that the company built its factory in South Carolina in order to punish the union. Retaliation of that sort, if proven, violates federal labor law.
In December 2011, the union and Boeing struck a four-year deal that that provided raises, job protections and a commitment to make more planes in the Puget Sound area. With the South Carolina plant no longer seen as a threat to jobs in Washington state, the union dropped its complaint and the NLRB general counsel ended the hearing process.