Rift Growing Between Boeing, Palmetto State Politicians

THE ISSUE? UNIONIZATION …  Politicians in South Carolina have a subservient relationship with aircraft manufacturer Boeing … When the company says “jump,” they ask “how high?”  Or more specifically, “how much?”  This subservience has resulted in Palmetto State taxpayers coughing up more than $1 billion worth of crony capitalist tax…


Politicians in South Carolina have a subservient relationship with aircraft manufacturer Boeing …

When the company says “jump,” they ask “how high?”  Or more specifically, “how much?”  This subservience has resulted in Palmetto State taxpayers coughing up more than $1 billion worth of crony capitalist tax credits to the company – which opened a manufacturing facility in North Charleston, S.C. for its 787 Dreamliner airplane in 2011.

Hell, S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman – who wields unrivaled power in the S.C. General Assembly – proudly refers to himself as the “Senator from Boeing.”  In fact he’s got a Boeing flag flying in his office – one he reportedly stole from the stage of the company’s big 2011 announcement.

S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell is equally subservient …

Then there’s S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who has slavishly kowtowed to the company at every opportunity – pimping its “mack daddy planes” as well as the crony capitalist subsidies it receives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Like the problem-plagued Dreamliner itself, though, it’s been a very bumpy ride for Boeing in South Carolina … and the worst turbulence could still be ahead.

Last November, FITS published this exclusive report on problems at Boeing’s North Charleston facility – most notably workmanship and productivity issues which have since been confirmed by multiple other media outlets.

In fact here’s an updated story on these problems … which are ongoing.

But within that November 2013 report lurked another issue …

In addition to its productivity problems, Boeing’s North Charleston plant also appears to be on the verge of a union takeover.

“More workers are wearing their IAM shirts on Fridays,” one source said, referring to an ongoing campaign by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Wow …

Part of the problem appears to be the management style of Jack Jones, who took over day-to-day command of the plant in 2011.

“Workers aren’t allowed to leave the line for any reason without written permission,” one source told us.

Also, Jones is dealing with a “competency gap” compared to Boeing’s Everett, Washington, facility – unable to find qualified South Carolina workers to serve in key engineering positions.

“The engineers are being shipped in from Seattle,” our source said, adding that when it comes to top-tier manufacturing talent, “South Carolina can’t keep up with their needs.”

Since publishing this report, FITS has uncovered more information on Jones … as well as the drive to unionize Boeing’s South Carolina facility.  According to our sources, IAM is continuing to make inroads in North Charleston – although estimates vary as to when the union will be ready to strike.

“They can’t lose here,” one source said.  “And they won’t lose here.”

So … how long?

One of our sources says North Charleston will “fall” to the union before the end of the year … although that assessment appears to be the outlier.  Most sources familiar with the situation tell FITS unionization is still a year or two away.

All agree it’s coming, though … especially if Boeing doesn’t make changes at the top.

Obviously that’s a reference to Jones – who continues to rile workers at the facility with his “distant” and “insensitive” management, which includes assigning single mothers to work the night shift at the plant – with no prior notification.


“He’s lazy and he doesn’t know how to manage,” one source familiar with the situation tells us. “He’s not treating the workforce here well at all – he doesn’t understand the culture.”

So much for that “highly collaborative management style” he bragged about during a recent speech at Gonzaga.

Also, recent attempts to bring in an employee “ambassador” – a former company executive with ties to Boeing’s anti-union contingent – backfired miserably.

Part of the problem may be Jones’ attitude, but the real issue is his managerial background.

“He’s never known anything but the unions,” one source tells us. “Every other job he’s had, he’s been able to tell the union boss to ‘go fix it,’ and then blame the union boss if it didn’t get fixed.”

So … does Jones want a union presence in South Carolina?

“He doesn’t care if a union comes in,” our source said. “He doesn’t see the problem.”

Uh-oh …

Of course while Boeing’s South Carolina employees have a burning desire to see Jones shipped off, their intensity reportedly pales in comparison to Jones’ desire to get the hell out of the Palmetto State.

“His view is ‘how soon can you get me on a plane,'” a source close to the embattled manager tells FITS. “He doesn’t want to be in South Carolina one second longer than he has to.”

So why is he still here?

That’s a good question … one Palmetto State leaders are starting to ask each other, albeit quietly.

“There is concern this guy (Jones) is hastening unionization of the facility,” one lawmaker told us confidentially.

South Carolina leaders do not dare publicly question – let alone challenge – Boeing, though.  Not on personnel … not on anything.  Even though they have forced Palmetto taxpayers to subsidize the company’s operations to an unprecedented extent, the company still dictates the terms in all its interactions with government officials.

“Nobody’s bucking Boeing,” one source told us. “Especially during an election year.”

Still, seeds of dissent have been planted … and Boeing-related rifts are growing within the South Carolina legislature.

“A billion dollars ought to buy us some say in the direction of the facility,” one frustrated State Senator told FITS.  “But they got the (Senate) president and the governor and the Speaker all in their back pocket – so we all fall in line.”

Indeed …

Which brings us to the scariest part of this story:  A billion dollars later – with serious production issues plaguing the North Charleston facility and the specter of unionization looming over the plant – no one seems to be doing anything to solve Boeing’s Palmetto problems.

Least of all Boeing …

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john dozier July 2, 2014 at 10:56 am

There are no bad regiments, only bad Colonels-Napolean.

RogueElephant July 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm

He was right.

Swamp Fox July 2, 2014 at 11:03 am

“Charleston falls to the Union”. Nice.

EJB July 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I see what you did there….

Interesting development July 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

How fascinating is it that Union’s might come to SC due to management problems at Boeing?

I’m really curious if the upper management in WA feels the same way as the plant manager in SC.

aikencounty July 2, 2014 at 11:14 am

Maybe NIMRATA needs to get a new “smack talker”.

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

“unable to find qualified South Carolina workers to serve in key engineering positions.”

Uh, can’t they just hire people from all over? I highly doubt Boeing just hires Washington workers in Washington.

Yvette July 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Well maybe Boeing can’t find many qualified people who are willing to live/work in SC. Most folks prefer to live in the modern world.

Hypocrite July 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Obviously, not you.

Yvette July 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

….the truth hurt doesn’t it :)

Hypocrite July 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

That’s the thing, it’s your “truth”, not mine…which makes your comment even more strange.

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

It’s not even truth, it’s idiocy. Literally nobody thinks that.

Barbarossa July 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Really? So Charleston sucks? Wow, not sure the rest of the world agrees based off of travel surveys. Let’s face it, you’re merely a unionist, Yankee troll who hates everything Southern… seriously, why don’t you just move back to your rotting wood sided little mill house in Allentown and bathe in your “progressiveness”.

Trouble July 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

South Carolina has the highest incidence of deaths by stroke in the nation! My wife and I appreciate that. We also are thrilled to note that health care ranks 33rd out of 50 states, to say nothing of a teen pregnancy rate AND an infant mortality rate that are nationally ranked.

34% of children in South Carolina are obese, easily outpacing the national average, and even more live below the poverty line! Combine that with a 38.3% high-school dropout rate, and we knew it was going to be a great fit for our kids!

Carl Schmidt July 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Using a travel survey as evidence of willingness to *live* in an area is absurd. Travel surveys indicate a willingness to go to a location, spend some time there, and leave.

The non-service jobs are few and far between. The cost of living in Charleston County is insanely high. 10.5% sales tax on “luxury” items and an 8.5% sales tax otherwise? That’s right up there with California. The state income taxes maximum of 7% is also among the highest in the nation. I paid that much while I worked there and I was just an assembler. It was well over double what I paid in the state that I relocated from. The sales taxes was anywhere from 2-4.5% higher as well. How does that translate to a better place to live when I was making substantially less over the course of three years than I would have been had I stayed in my home state? Oh, it doesn’t.

Living in Charleston County taught me one thing: don’t live in a tourist destination if you can avoid it because they seldom make a distinction between tourist and local residents.

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

You’ve never lived outside of SC have you? I have, and believe me, there are PLENTY of people that would prefer to live in Charleston. I’m not sure what planet you’re living on.

Karolyn July 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

The thing is most of the workers probably can’t afford to live in Charleston!

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Bu…but….SC workers and Boeing and charleston and education and I’m smart because I hate charleston……

Karolyn July 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Nobody said they hate Charleston. I

Newsflash July 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm

*Charleston is in SC….

“Most folks prefer to live in the modern world.”

Is that love?

Jackie Chiles July 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

Nobody said you were smart either.

Karolyn July 3, 2014 at 11:52 am

What does that have to do with my answer, which was perfectly legitimate? Why do people like you have to resort to personal attacks. Are you related to Grand Tango?

Jackie Chiles July 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

(she typed, tears in her eyes)

Karolyn July 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Grow up!

Slartibartfast July 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm


Jackie thinks you are criticizing Charleston – and to be fair, at first read, that’s what it looked like. But then, I remembered that when I lived in the area, I made an excellent salary, and had lots of connections, but still couldn’t afford to live IN Charleston. I did have a very nice house in Evanston Estates, but downtown in the Holy City was WAY out of my pay range. I hope that is what you meant.

Jackie is ironic and sometimes caustic, but always funny; and I really like his posts. You will too, in time.

Buck up July 3, 2014 at 6:22 pm

FITS is a tough place, no holds barred. You either buck up or go away.

Who spells Caroline like that anyway?

Karolyn July 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm

There’s a big difference between “CaroLYN” and CaroLINE. Where have you been? Many are spelled with a K to be different. Mine is a Polish spelling, since the Polish alphabet does not have a hard C. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China anyway? I thought adults posted here.

I’ve been posting on worse sites than this for years.

Buck up July 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I should have known you were a Polak.

Karadion July 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

And yet I’m here. I’m originally from Washington which Boeing moved me here.

Native Ink July 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

A lot of people moved here for Boeing in the beginning and are very dissatisfied now. Word gets around that it’s not worth uprooting your family and coming here for the kind of pay and work/life balance Boeing offers.

Spot On July 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm

exactly. Low pay. And I mean, LOW PAY! Why live on the edge of poverty while the higher up get 6 figures?

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

So it’s not SC’s workers then.

Native Ink July 2, 2014 at 11:31 am

If the union announces a date for a vote, the state politicians will launch a propaganda crapstorm to end all crapstorms. Hardly any of the innuendos and threats they’ll use will have a shred of truth but that has never stopped them before.

If the IAM does try for a vote, they better not cozy up too much to executives like Jones in the hope that will help their chances. The UAW tried that when they tried to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. The Republicans there had their propaganda crapstorm, but the real killer for the union was that they put a clause in the contract that said they would protect VW’s savings on labor costs at the plant. It didn’t take a genius to see that the union would not push for significant pay raises. It seems like the IAM national leadership is quick to bend to Boeing’s demands (like in the 2013 contract in Washington state), but if they bend too much here in Charleston, the workers will decide there is no advantage for voting them in.

scotty July 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

WTF does the Boeing management decisions have to do with the GA? They are huge company with talented employees and they can transfer them as needed. Production problems happen in all industries just look at GM.

Bible Thumper July 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

Bring in the unions. That ought to clean up the corruption in SC.

RogueElephant July 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm

By adding yet another layer of corruption ??? Don’t think so.

Bible Thumper July 2, 2014 at 12:35 pm

The crony businessmen will have competition. It would raise the price of our elected representatives. First class from then on. No more $5 strippers who are only part time hookers. True professionals from then on.

RogueElephant July 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I saw this scenario years ago at another job. Bad management leads to unionization quicker than anything else. When the workers aren’t free to work without someone looking over their shoulder all the time , they retaliate. What part of Business Management 101 did these jerks miss ?

Vanguard16 July 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Yeah, South Carolina is overstocked with aircraft builders to choose from!

Yvette July 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Thank you, well said.

DL July 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I have been to Boeing on several occasions and think Will is only partially correct. The working conditions, to me, seemed fine. No one seemed to be killing themselves and work was getting done.

The union problems comes in by the racial makeup of the workforce. The African Americans are clearly the wedge through the door for the unions. They believe they are entitled to 30 to 50 bucks an hour (NOW!) and are ready to move when they can, but as of yet there are not the votes.

I know I will be criticized for this comment, but I have spent many hours with workers there and this is my humble opinion.

cuvinny July 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm

It’s always those lazy porch monkeys fucking it up for the rest of us

Karolyn July 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Is it not in the article that they can’t even leave the line without written permission?

Karadion July 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

That’s embellished. No such thing exists.

It's not just her July 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

EVERY time I’ve ever been quoted for an article, the writer has embellished on my comments. So now, I never give quotes…ever.

It was a good education for me in that now I’m skeptical of every single media report I read.

Carl Schmidt July 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm

For once, I will agree with you.

Carl Schmidt July 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Please describe how you’ve “been to Boeing on several occasions.” You don’t work there, obviously, so that’s out. How else have you been inside the sacred walls? Are you a politician? Perhaps you took a brief tour during family day? Or maybe you’re a high school kid who got to tour from the tour balcony?

Bobby Edwards July 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

The writer and those who have commented seem to forget or ignore the fact that they had the IAM union in there already. Until the workers at the plant decided they would be better off with-out the union and voted the IAM out back 2009, it was a unions shop. They thought that if they got rid of the union, they could get more work, and a bigger role with Boeing.
Since they dumped the union they have got a number of facilities, including the 787 final assembly line , an interiors plant, a number of engineering offices, a huge IT data center, several engineering and manufacturing opportunities for the new 737-MAX, a new paint shop, and the possibility of yet another whole new plant on land that Boeing just purchased and leased at the airport. Some say all of the 787-10’s will be built there.
So I think with the non-union rewards they have gained, it will take more than moving one women to the night shift to get a union back.

Native Ink July 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

The union was here when the plant was owned by Vought. A lot has changed since then.

Bobby Edwards July 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

The same people are still in those plants, and last I saw they said the were happier with-out the union.

William July 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Leatherman, and others crooks, could care less about Boeing except for the money they make off the deal. Politicians in this state are never asked questions like: Senator Leatherman, have you or your associates made any money off Boeing, specifically in real estate?
Questions like that would change the landscape. We need a press corp that will put these pols on the spot and under the spotlight.

Cash July 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

They seem to have their fingers in everything. Why not Boeing?

See It Lots and Lots July 2, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Anyone who knows how lazy American workers really are would understand employees leaving the production line to go play on their smartphones.

See It Lots and Lots July 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm

With the steady influx of transplants from other states into South Carolina (you do not often find original natives in the lowcountry anymore), the ones from the northeast are the most nasty mean spirited sarcastic spawns of satan that you could imagine.

Jackie Chiles July 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

To be fair though, we should probably blame South Carolina for the goings ons of a billion dollar corporation that happens to have one location in SC. That’s why I blame China every time my iphone doesn’t work properly.

Native Ink July 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

LOL. Most of the “real” Charlestonians tourists gawk at coming out of their houses downtown are Northerners who moved here a few years ago.

aikencounty July 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm

You ever had to deal with Texans or Californians?

Karolyn July 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm

You are so wrong! My friend and I were just having a conversation about how NY & NJ people do not deserve the reputation many give them. It’s just that northerners are more honest and don’t cowtow to people.

aikencounty July 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm

On a slightly parallel note:
RUMOR has it that Cadillac is coming to Greenville.

Slartibartfast July 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm

If conservative/libertarians are quick, they will also notice that the Export-Import Bank has Boeing all over it. I’m glad they’re here, but they should be able to function without my federal tax dollars as well as getting a tax break from the state.

Carl Schmidt July 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

I eagerly await the shutdown of the Ex-Im Bank for this very reason.

Karolyn July 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Just what SC needs – it being publicly announced that Boeing can’t find qualified help in the state. Great way to attract new business! Although maybe they all know that, and that’s why they’re not flocking here. At least fix the education system for the future!

GrandTango July 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

The state just added a Congressional seat, California and NY, and much of the Rust belt is losing population…You F*#king Dumb#$$..

You liberals NEVER let Facts or reality cloud your Ignorance, Do You???

Chris Memminger July 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Grand Tango is Emily Peterkin.

GrandTango July 2, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Georgetown Steele….
The best way to teach a Dumb@$$ is to let him have his way…Sadly we did that w/ Obama. And we’re all suffering…

Kgman July 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

and by the way “ID” below, yes, yes they do, all of them (mfg mgrs) are having there medical & pentions messed with as well.

787 PRIDE July 3, 2014 at 6:05 pm

It amazes me that the opinions stated here are complete crap. I moved from another state and have been in aviation for almost 20yrs. People take about pay, go anywhere and find a job where you have no experience and they pay you 40k a year… most college grads would love to make that starting out. The ones who complain are the ones who think that Boeing owes them a job. the employess already have great benifits complared to most other companies and some of the best in aviation.It is those who can’t do the work are the ones who complain. Welcome to the real world. Not everyone is cut out to work in this industry.If you don’t like it, you are free to go find a job that pays you more with little or no experience, because we live in a country that gives us that freedom. MY guess is they won’t go looking because that would require them to be motivated and I am sure if they are lazy at work, they won’t have the motivation elsewhere. Good luck.

Giles LaViolet July 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

This blog post is totally inaccurate and misleading. Shame on you for publishing rumor and innuendo.

jkdrummer July 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Lest we forget FITSNEWS’ stance on this latest development:

Joseph Mitchell February 3, 2015 at 7:25 am

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