Machinists union sues over S.C. governor's remarks about Boeing plant
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is facing her first big lawsuit after saying the state would try to keep unions out of the Boeing Inc. plant in North Charleston.
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 to cut 1,100
from C-17 work force
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Dwindling domestic demand for C-17 cargo planes will force Boeing to slash 1,100 jobs at its U.S. plants, most of them in Long Beach, where the aerospace giant has cut 13,000 jobs since the 1990s, the company said Thursday.
The 900 jobs in Long Beach and 200 jobs at plants in Mesa, Ariz.; Macon, Ga.; and St. Louis will be gone by the end of next year.
The cuts include accountants, midlevel management, engineering, research and assembly workers. Affected workers will receive 60-day notices beginning Friday, with layoffs staggered monthly through 2012.
The Associated Press
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