Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

New Rule Allowing Electronic Union Authorization Expected to Make IAM Campaign at Boeing More Fair

2012, when things were way more chill.

2012, when things were way more chill.

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A new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule allowing workers to sign election authorization cards online went into effect September 1st, just in time for the International Association of Machinists’ (IAM) broadening of its campaign at the Boeing Dreamliner plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The new rule allows workers to log onto a website and electronically sign and submit authorization cards rather having to do so in person with a union organizer.  Streamlining union elections has been a focal point of this NLRB’s tenure. Other actions on this front include having shortened the window of time during which elections take place.  The IAM will need physical or electronic signatures from at least 30 percent of the eligible workforce in order to petition the NLRB for an election at the Boeing plant.

IAM spokesman Frank Larkin explained to the Post and Courier that the new rule facilitates decision-making for workers and their families:

“It’s easier for workers.  Very often, this is a family decision, and now it can be made with the family sitting around the kitchen table in the privacy of their own home. It’s a matter of convenience and acknowledges the growth of digital technology.”

Naturally, Boeing opposes the new rule.

“We are concerned for the potential that electronic signatures present for the presentation of false or fraudulent cards,” Boeing South Carolina spokesman Rob Gross said, “although there are certainly recent examples of presentation of fraudulent paper cards as well.”

You say boogey. I say man.

An April petition for an election at the plant was withdrawn when the IAM claimed Boeing was waging a misinformation campaign and there had been too much political interference.

Speaking to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the IAM’s Frank Larkin explained that the new NLRB rule could play a pivotal role in the success of the organizing campaign:

“Part of the previous effort in Charleston was handicapped by difficulty in reaching employees, who were spread quite far from the facility.  It’s one more tool, but frankly it’s overdue.”

Larkin added that the anonymity of electronic signatures cuts down on the amount of anti-union pressure that Boeing can place on its employees: “It will make them feel more confident there’s no surveillance of any kind.”

Speaking to the Post Courier, Columbia-based labor lawyer Michael Carrouth refuted Boeing’s claim that electronic signatures would lead to fraudulent authorization cards:

“Unions are not going to want to file a petition unless they know for sure they have the support,” Carrouth said, adding that a campaign based on fabricated authorization cards would be “incredibly bad strategy.”


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