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Assembly Line Union Woes

More trouble brewing over Boeing's Dreamliner

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Apr 22, 2011

(eTN) - Information was received overnight that a complaint by the relevant trade union over Boeing’s second B787 assembly line in South Carolina has now brought the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the scene.

The company was served with a notice by the NLRB over allegedly victimizing union members, who had in the past repeatedly gone on strike at the main Boeing plant, by transferring production to a non–unionized plant back in 2009. From details provided, it appears that the unions may have a strong case as Boeing executives at the time made repeated public reference to strikes and options to prevent further industrial action by moving production away.

Both parties are now able to seek a negotiated solution, but if by mid-June no progress has been made or settlement been reached between Boeing management and union representatives, the matter may then have to be decided by na NLRB judge, which could trigger lengthy appeals in federal courts and spur further industrial action by the unions. How this would affect the production of the long-delayed new airliner is hard to judge, but the second plant was to assemble three aircraft a month, while the main plant is due to assemble 7 B787s a month, all of which are scheduled for deliveries to customers already angry and frustrated over the three-year delays.

It can only be hoped that a negotiated settlement can be reached in due course as here in East Africa Kenya Airways only last week re-affirmed their order for 9 of the B787’s while neighboring Ethiopian Airlines too has a substantial number of the new aircraft on order. Neither airline has officially reacted yet to these news but will certainly be monitoring these developments with concern, as will other Boeing customers with pending orders for the Dreamliner.

More trouble brewing over Boeing's Dreamliner
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