Local Boeing Worker Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Union

Dec 17, 2013

A Boeing worker in Renton has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the machinists union.

Timothy Limestall says local leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers failed to provide enough information about Boeing’s contract extension offer that members voted on last month.

The 30,000 machinists rejected the company’s proposal by a two-to-one margin after local union leaders steered rank-and-file members toward turning down the offer, Limestall said.

"We were not provided with the information to make an informed decision by our business representatives, by our local," Limestall said.

After the vote, Limestall said he received a letter from the president of the union’s international headquarters that gave more information about what the company had offered. He’s upset with his local union leadership, he said, because he’s worried Boeing will build the next 777 jet elsewhere.

Bryan Corliss, spokesman for the union's District Lodge 751, said of the unfair labor practice charge: "We are aware of it and have turned it over to our lawyers."

The company has been evaluating proposals from 22 states vying to build the plane, and a top executive on Tuesday said Boeing is working to winnow down the list to a handful of contenders this week.

Union leaders and the company met again last week to strike a deal, but those talks failed when union leaders said they could not recommend acceptance of Boeing’s counteroffer to the membership.  

Pushing for a Vote

Some union members have expressed anger with their union since then, saying they wanted a chance to vote on Boeing's counteroffer, which the company called its "best and final" proposal. 

Paul Fritzler is a 767 machinist in Everett who said he was exploring the possibility of filing an unfair labor practice charge against the union to force the leadership to allow members to vote. However, he says he spoke with an official at the NLRB, who told him that the board didn't have jurisdiction to do that. 

Ron Hooks, regional director of the NLRB in Seattle, said he couldn't comment on the issue of jurisdiction. He said the only way the labor board would take up that issue is if a machinist files an unfair labor practice charge alleging the union violated its "duty of fair representation." 

"I couldn't comment as to whether or not that theory would have any viability," Hooks said. "It would take a full-fledged investigation to understand what theory or case law they were relying on to make that kind of argument." 

Hooks said a normal investigation takes seven to 11 weeks. He said so far no one has filed a ULP trying to force the union to hold a vote. 

Meanwhile, local union leaders say there's no offer to vote on. They say Boeing withdrew it after local union leaders said they couldn't recommend it to their members. Boeing says the offer wasn't withdrawn, simply that it was rejected.