February 22, 2017
On February 15, 2017, the vast majority of Boeing’s employees in North Charleston and Ladson, South Carolina, rejected the International Association of Machinists’ attempt to unionize them. Of the 2,828 Boeing employees who voted, 2,097 of them -- 74% -- voted against unionization.
This was the second of two failed attempts to unionize Boeing’s employees in North Charleston and Ladson. Two years ago the same union launched a campaign to represent the employees, but stopped the process a few days before the election was to be conducted. In early 2017 the union once again requested an election, promising this time to go all the way to an actual vote.
In the weeks that followed, the union conducted an active campaign, using billboards, commercials and other means, as it tried to convince Boeing employees to become unionized. The campaign culminated in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on February 15, 2017. To win, the union had to persuade a majority of the employees to vote “yes” for the union. They did not. Instead, 75% of the employees overwhelming voted “no,” thereby rejecting unionization.
The campaign generated attention throughout South Carolina and nationally. Some union-proponents hoped a union victory would jump start a resurgence in unionization in South Carolina, which continues attracting new employers and investment. Fortunately, that did not happen. The union’s margin of loss was so significant that the union suggested that it would close its local office and leave North Charleston. The union’s loss preserved South Carolina’s status as being the state with the lowest unionization percentage in the nation, benefitting the state’s employees and employers now and hopefully for years to come.