Union attempting to create 'micro-unit' at Boeing has history of corruption

A union attempting to create a micro-unit within Boeing's Charleston facility has a history of corruption, according to a website called "IAM Exposed."

The website points out several instances from 2010 until 2013 that officials within the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) were indicted or convicted of stealing members' funds. The union is a private sector union.

IAM is currently attempting to unionize 178 technicians at Boeing's facility in Charleston, after several failed attempts to unionize larger groups of workers in the facility in recent years. The technicians will vote on Thursday on whether or not they wish to be part of the union.

Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the technicians could vote to unionize. Boeing said it would appeal the ruling.

Jesse Hathaway  

F. Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow with Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan, told the Palmetto Business Daily that the unions are showing a lot of hutzpa.

"First they tried to deny Boeing employees their jobs under the Obama administration by saying that Boeing could not build a plant in South Carolina, then they tried to organize them and failed miserably," Vernuccio said. "Now they're trying to slice and dice the employees so that they can get a foot in the door to try and organize the plant."

Vernuccio said if the technicians vote to unionize and the micro-unit is held valid, Boeing would have to start negotiating with IAM in South Carolina.

Jesse Hathaway, a research fellow with The Heartland Institute Center on Budgets and Taxes, told the Palmetto Business Daily that  South Carolina is a right-to-work state, which means unions have to make the case that joining with a union is worth the effort and money to the workers.

"Some states are what we call 'forced unionism' states because there is no need for a union recruiter to do any recruiting because they've struck a deal with the employer that says anybody who comes to work here has to join the union," Hathaway said. "There's no sales pitch that has to be made. South Carolina is not one of these states. The workers have the freedom to make that decision of whether they want to join the union or be on their own."

Hathaway said the micro-unions are a relatively recent thing, as the first one to be established was in 2011 with a company called Specialty Healthcare. A small group of employees at Macy's also formed a micro-union in 2014.

"This is whether workers in one department want to unionize, as opposed to the entire workplace," Hathaway said. "This kind of makes things a little complicated for not just the business owner, but also the other employees there."

Hathaway said things work a lot better when everyone is doing their own part.

"These micro-unions are impractical, but its what the National Labor Relations Board ruled," Hathaway said. "It's one of the costs of doing business."

Hathaway said it gives the ability for one group of people to gerrymander the whole workplace.

"It's a very selfish model," Hathaway said.

Hathaway said all large unions have a history of corruption, noting the case of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance and allegations of crossings with the mob.

"IBEW definitely does has a history of being corrupt," Hathaway said. "Not even two years ago the FBI raided the union hall of IBEW in Philadelphia in connection with a corruption investigation. They even searched the union boss' home."

Hathaway said corruption isn't something that is just within a single union and is likely within many of them.

"There is just a huge amount of money that is floating around in their coffers," Hathaway said. "I would say most labor unions have a definite whiff of corruption. Some perhaps more than others."

Hathaway said unions are not serving their members when they misplace funds like that.

"People who are doing business with them should be careful because they do have this history that is attached to them," Hathaway said.

In March, IAM filed a petition to attempt to unionize the Boeing facility, which made it IAM's third attempt at unionizing there since the facility opened in 2011.

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Organizations in this Story

Boeing Company Heartland Institute International Association Of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 254/District 6 Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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