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Board Finds Partial Plant Unit at Boeing’s South Carolina Facility Not an Appropriate Unit.

Decision Clarifies NLRB’s Traditional Community-of-Interest Standard.

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Labor Relations Board held today that a petitioned-for unit at Boeing’s South Carolina plant that was limited to only two job classifications within an aircraft production line was not an appropriate unit for purposes of conducting a union election. In so doing, the Board applied and clarified the traditional community-of-interest standard. The case is The Boeing Company (10-RC-215878; 368 NLRB No. 67).

The decision resolves a petition filed by the International Association of Machinists Union for a unit of approximately 178 mechanics out of a workforce totaling over 2700 employees.  Boeing argued that the mechanics – flight-line readiness technicians and flight-line readiness technician inspectors – must be included in the larger community of workers at the aircraft production plant where the Company’s 787 Dreamliner is built.   

The Board noted its prior rejection of the “micro-unit” holding in Specialty Healthcare, 357 NLRB 934 (2011) and its return in PCC Structurals, Inc., 365 NLRB No. 160 (2017), to the traditional community-of-interest test. In one of the first cases applying the traditional test since issuing PCC Structurals, the Board set forth a clarifying, three-step analysis for determining whether a petitioned-for unit is appropriate. Under that analysis, the Board will consider (1) whether the members of the petitioned-for unit share a community of interest with each other, (2) whether the employees excluded from the unit have meaningfully distinct interests in the context of collective bargaining that outweigh similarities with unit members, and (3) guidelines the Board has established for appropriate unit configurations in specific industries.

In reaching its decision, the Board found that the mechanics in the petitioned-for unit did not share an internal community of interest and did not have sufficiently distinct interests from those employees excluded from the petitioned-for unit. The Board also concluded that there were no appropriate-unit guidelines specific to the employer’s industry. 

Chairman John F. Ring was joined by Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel in the majority opinion. Member McFerran, dissenting, would have found the petitioned-for unit appropriate.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees and employers from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.

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