The machinists at Boeing's newly acquired Charleston facility have voted against continued representation by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), according to the employee hotline set up to notify the workforce of the result. Employees of Boeing Charleston voted 68 in favour of continued representation by the IAM and 199 against. A simple majority vote was required to continue the IAM's representation of the Boeing Charleston workforce.

In reaction to the preliminary vote that has yet to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Boeing spokesman Tim Healy said in a statement it was happy with the outcome and suggested that process was a distraction from the work going on at the facility:

"We are pleased that hourly workers expressed their desire to deal directly with the company on employment matters without any intermediary. We're also pleased that Boeing Charleston can now move forward to focus on excellence and meeting commitments on the 787 program."

According to a report on, IAM spokesman Bob Wood indicated that Boeing involved itself in the vote:

"It's a democratic process. We certainly feel that workers would be better with union representation," Wood reportedly said. "It's too bad that Boeing did not stay neutral in the process and let the workers decide."

Healy maintained that the petition to de-certify was driven by employees alone and Boeing had no role in its initiation. Adding that per the rules laid out for a de-certification vote, after the election is scheduled "both sides have a right to communicate their point of view".

Healy said that the initial 2007 vote for representation by the IAM took place prior to Boeing's July acquistion of the Vought Aircraft Industries facility which is responsible for the fabrication and integration of the 787's aft fuselage sections.

The vote may clear the way for Boeing to select the North Charleston, South Carolina site as the location for the second 787 line. A final decision on the line has been based in large part on the relations between Boeing and the IAM, its largest union.

The IAM, which represents the company's more than 25,000 machinists and aerospace workers, went on strike halting production in Boeing's commercial aircraft factories for 57-days during September and October of 2008.

The vote is expected to be certified by the NLRB within seven days.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news