This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Think It's Impossible for Unions to Organize in the South? Think Again

Stocks in this article: BA LLL

Story has been updated with statement from Boeing 

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (TheStreet) -- Maybe it's a little bit too soon to be writing the epitaph for the labor movement in the South.

The International Association of Machinists this week said it won a union election in Corpus Christi in South Texas, organizing 450 military helicopter mechanics, technicians and maintenance personnel employed by L3 (LLL) at the Corpus Christi Army Depot.

The union movement's historic weakness in the South was underscored in February when 53% of workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted not to join the United Auto Workers. The UAW has appealed the result to the National Labor Relations Board, alleging intensive third-party involvement in the opposition to its effort.

The IAM, however, was formed in Atlanta and has a history of organizing in the South, particularly in Alabama. The union is not stopping in Corpus Christi, but rather is eyeing what could be a major organizing success story as it has begun preliminary work to organize the planned Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala. The IAM represents 32,000 Boeing (BA) workers and is the country's largest aerospace union.

In the L3 election, "Our organizers were able to overcome the anti-union bias that is promoted in some southern states by providing concrete examples of what IAM contracts have already secured for similar workers throughout the South," said Mark Blondin, IAM southern territory vice president, in a prepared statement.

"The IAM also has a history in the South that goes back 126 years, with well-established bargaining relationships in shipbuilding, defense and aerospace," Blondin said.

L3 nominally opposed the effort, "but it was not intense," said IAM spokesman Bob Wood. "They put out some fliers." The IAM has several contracts with L3, Wood said. The biggest contract covers about 3,500 Army fleet support workers at Fort Rucker, Ala.

New York-based L3 is an aerospace systems and national security contractor, providing communication and electronic systems and products for military and commercial use. Of its 48,000 employees, approximately 20% are covered by collective bargaining agreements with various unions.

"Historically, we have renegotiated labor agreements without significant disruptions to operating activities and we believe that relations with our employees are positive," the company said in its 10-K filed in February.

Similarly, Volkswagen did not oppose the organizing drive at its plant, and Airbus would not oppose one at its plant.

"We plan to build an operation that treats our employees well -- and to build strong direct relationships with and among Airbus people," Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell said Thursday. "We are skeptical, therefore, that they would see a union as adding value. Having said this, employees have the right to choose representation if they desire to do so."

In a recent interview, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger said he is enthusiastic about the likelihood of organizing Airbus. "We've already put in a lot of work," he said. "The IAM has a pretty good relationship with Airbus and we're pushing to win this."

The $600 million Airbus Mobile plant is expected to begin production in 2015, to deliver its first aircraft in 2016 and to employ about 1,000 people by 2018.

Buffenbarger also said the IAM will try again to organize Boeing's plant in North Charleston, S.C. 

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,777.92 -0.23 -0.00%
S&P 500 2,063.95 +2.72 0.13%
NASDAQ 4,755.6560 +7.26 0.15%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs