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Friday, January 21, 2011

Machinists union sues over S.C. governor's remarks about Boeing plant

Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is facing her first big lawsuit after saying the state would try to keep unions out of the Boeing plant in North Charleston.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and AFL-CIO asked for a court order telling Haley and her director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to remain neutral in matters concerning union activities.

"There's no secret I don't like the unions," Haley said when asked about the litigation. "We are a right-to-work state. I will do everything I can to defend the fact we are a right-to-work state. We are pro-business by nature. I want us to continue to be pro-business. If they don't like what I said, I'm sorry, that's how I feel."

The lawsuit stems from remarks Haley made last month as she nominated Catherine Templeton to run the state's labor agency. She said Templeton's union-fighting background would be helpful in state fights against unions, particularly at Boeing.

"She is ready for the challenge," Haley said then. "We're going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it. She's the right person to help me do it."

For her part, Templeton said: "In my experience I have found there is not one company that operates more efficiently when you put another layer of bureaucracy in. ... We will do everything we can to work with Boeing and make sure that their work force is taken care of, that they run efficiently and that we don't add anything unnecessarily."

The lawsuit argues that their actions, "taken under the color of state law, intimidate and coerce workers so that they are compelled to refrain from joining or supporting labor organizations."

Machinists union spokesman Frank Larkin said the lawsuit is an attempt to make sure workers' constitutionally protected rights aren't harmed by South Carolina's governor.

Larkin said he hadn't seen another governor be so plain-spoken. "This is practically unprecedented for a state to be so clear and so overt." Larkin

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said if "the Machinists are offended that the governor doesn't think unions are a good thing in South Carolina, they're just going to have to get used to it."

In October 2009, Boeing passed over Everett to pick North Charleston for its second 787 final-assembly line. The Machinists union last year filed a complaint against Boeing with the National Labor Relations Board, charging that the company was retaliating for a 2008 strike when it decided to put the second Dreamliner line in South Carolina rather than in Everett.

Boeing announces another round of layoffs

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Boeing announced on Thursday another round of layoffs, blaming a slowdown in production of the C-17 cargo plane.

Nine hundred of the 1,100 planned job cuts will come from Boeing's Long Beach plant. Boeing is the largest private employer in Long Beach.

The entire Long Beach plant is expected to close by the end of next year unless there's a sudden influx of new orders.

"Our rich history of aerospace manufacturing makes this an emotional day for Long Beach, as the C-17 plant is the last of what was previously a robust aerospace manufacturing industry in California," Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement. "The impacts from these reductions will affect the State and the region, and is not constrained only to Long Beach."

Boeing to cut jobs in Mesa as orders drop
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