Hearing begins in labor complaint against Boeing

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing on Tuesday asked a judge in Seattle to dismiss a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that accuses the plane maker of breaking the law when it built a non-union production line in South Carolina.

The complaint by NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon accused Boeing Co. of illegally retaliating against union workers for past strikes by adding a non-union assembly line for its new 787 passenger jet in South Carolina. The NLRB said Boeing also should move that assembly work to unionized plants in Washington state, where other 787s are assembled.

At the opening of a hearing on the case Tuesday, Boeing attorney William Kilberg said the legal dispute has cast a shadow over the company. He said the process has affected Boeing, its employees, its supplies and its investments. “It’s made life very, very difficult for Boeing,” he said.

“There’s no one injured, no one identified as being injured. No one has lost a job. We have no idea when the board talks about work being transferred, what work they’re referring to,” Kilberg said, adding that 3,176 jobs have been added in Everett, Wash., north of Seattle.

Boeing contends that the NLRB unfairly twisted or mischaracterized selected statements or took them out of context to file the complaint. The company says stopping 787 work in South Carolina would be impermissibly punitive because it would effectively shut down a new plant that has already hired 1,000 new workers.

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