Still, Hamilton said, the NLRB ruling comes at an unfortunate time, because the relationship between Boeing and the IAM appear to have improved recently. "Clearly Boeing has recognized that Local 751 members are producing airplanes at an unprecedented rate with top quality, and then this thing comes up -- it's just a real setback in terms of the larger picture," he said. Significantly, the IAM lobbied side-by-side with Boeing in its successful bid to win the $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force.
With Boeing eyeing the possibility of increasing 787 production beyond 10 a month, an obvious solution to the NLRB problem is to build 10 in Washington, and then to build additional airplanes in Charleston, Hamilton said, adding: "I know they are talking about 17, although they haven't acknowledged that yet." Nevertheless, Hamilton said he believes Boeing would prefer to pursue the case to the Supreme Court, where anti-labor sentiment seems to dominate, than to reach a compromise. "To settle would be to admit they were wrong, and Boeing doesn't do that," he said.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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