Updated from 6:45 a.m. EST with comments on IAM relationship with Boeing following two contract votes tied to ensuring 777X work for Everett, Wash.
MOBILE, Ala. ( TheStreet) -- The nation's top aerospace union said it isn't put off by the UAW's failure to organize Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tenn. It will seek to organize the planned Airbus plant in Alabama and it will also try again at the Boeing ( BA) plant in Charleston, S.C.
"I really believe we have a fair chance of pulling this off," said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, in an interview. "Our union was founded in the South (and) we already have thousands of members in Alabama." The IAM was formed in Atlanta in 1888, so the "outsider" charged leveled at the UAW in Chattanooga might not stick.
An effort to unionize Airbus, if it occurs, would very likely be the next closely watched indicator of the labor movement's standing in the South. Like VW, Airbus would be expected to refrain from opposing the union, while anti-union interest groups and Alabama Republican politicians -- like Tennessee Republican politicians -- would be expected to campaign stridently against it.
This time, the union would know what was coming. Also, the IAM has some unique advantages. It has regularly lobbied aggressively to help Boeing get defense contracts, so its involvement could be said to benefit Airbus, which has suffered in seeking defense contracts because it is a European company.-
Additionally, the IAM offers members an opportunity to participate in a highly successful, union-administered defined benefit pension plan at a time when most employers are moving or have moved to 401K plans.