The US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says it will seek an order to require Boeing to place the second 787 production line in Washington state, in response to charges filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) 17 months after Boeing selected North Charleston, South Carolina to host the site.

Acting general counsel Lafe Solomon says the NLRB "found reasonable cause to believe that Boeing had violated two sections of the National Labor Relations Act because its statements were coercive to employees and its actions were motivated by a desire to retaliate for past strikes and chill future strike activity."

The membership of the IAM voted in September 2008 to strike for 57-days, halting the company's commercial production operations in the Pacific Northwest.

Boeing later decided in October 2009 to place a second 787 final assembly line in North Charleston. Cited in the complaint are comments made by top Boeing executives, including CEO Jim McNerney, current Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh and former Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson about the role of labor stability in the decision to locate the second line in South Carolina, a right-to-work state that does not mandate union membership as a condition of employment.

The company says it will "vigorously contest" the complaint and the company's General Counsel, J. Michael Luttig says: "This 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."

The NLRB says, "The complaint does not seek closure of the South Carolina facility, nor does it prohibit Boeing from assembling planes there."

The South Carolina facility will support Boeing's plan to ramp 787 production by contributing three of the ten planned monthly aircraft by the end of 2013.

Boeing anticipates loading the first Charleston-built 787, an aircraft for United Airlines, in July.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news