Hearing resumes after judge denies Boeing motion

SEATTLE — A federal law enforcement agency’s hearing on allegations that the Boeing Co. broke federal labor laws when it moved work from its Everett plant to South Carolina resumes Wednesday morning in Seattle.

Last week, the federal judge presiding over the case denied a motion by the company’s lawyers to dismiss the complaint filed by investigators for the National Labor Relations Board.

“This reaffirms what we have said all along, that Boeing provided no facts or legal basis as to why the case should be dismissed,” said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for Machinists Union District Lodge 751. “The case will now proceed to a trial, as it should, on its merits.”

In a 19-page ruling issued June 30, Judge Clifford Anderson said many of the arguments Boeing had made in its motion to dismiss couldn’t be decided until after more evidence is presented in court.

But representatives of District 751 pointed out three key decisions by the judge that represent clear wins for the NLRB, which accuses Boeing of illegally retaliating against union members by moving the second 787 final assembly line, plus associated supply chain work, away from established factories in Washington and Oregon to new plants in South Carolina.

  • Judge Anderson rejected claims by Boeing lawyers that comments by CEO Jim McNerney – that the company was moving work away from Puget Sound because of past strikes — could not be construed as unlawful threats against workers.
  • Anderson cited settled NLRB case law in rejecting Boeing’s arguments that it was free to place a second 787 line in South Carolina because it was “new work,” and thus Puget Sound workers were not yet harmed by the move.

Both claims have been pillars of Boeing’s increasingly public and political defense for the discriminatory transfer of work from Puget Sound to South Carolina.

Finally, Anderson rejected Boeing’s attempt to narrow an NLRB proposal to move the 787 work back to Puget Sound and Portland as a remedy for the alleged violation of the law. The judge noted that returning the work to where it belongs is a standard remedy in similar NLRB cases, and it is too early in the proceedings to make any judgments on remedies.

All of Boeing’s other pre-trial efforts to derail the case were rejected entirely.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District 751 now represents 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.

Become a fan of IAM 751 on Facebook.

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