Union Claims Win In Boeing Case Ruling

August 15, 2011

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The union in a case against Boeing claimed victory in a decision related to the plane maker's efforts to keep certain information concealed during the proceeding.

The union interpreted a ruling from the administrative law judge in the case to mean that Boeing would only be able to keep documents in the case confidential in cases where it can prove this is absolutely necessary for its business.

"From our perspective this is a win," said Bryan Corliss, a spokesman for the union. We got most of what we requested. The judge said Boeing can keep some stuff secret but he set a real high standard for Boeing to meet in order to keep things confidential."

A representative for Boeing did not respond to requests for comment.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had brought the case against Boeing complaining that it had put a non-union factory in South Carolina to retaliate against union workers in Washington for past strikes.

Boeing had asked the administrative law judge in the case for an order to allow it to conceal information about the plane maker's costs for its 787 Dreamliner plane so it could keep the information from its competitors.

But the NLRB and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union had said the request was too broad and that it would conceal details that are crucial to the case.

For example the IAM and the NLRB say details on tax incentives offered by South Carolina to locate the plant there are at the heart of the case and should be accessible.

The case has become a lightning rod for a larger debate between supporters of union rights and those who believe US companies should be free to build factories where they want.

The 787, a lightweight, carbon-composite plane, is three years behind schedule because of snags in its complex global supply chain. But the company also blames a 58-day IAM strike in 2008 for part of the delay.

The 787 plant in South Carolina is set to assemble three Dreamliners each month, while the primary 787 plant in Everett, Washington, would build another seven.