Charleston welcomes Boeing, hopes it stays

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South Carolina is a right-to-work state, which forbids unions from making either membership or the levying of dues a condition of employment.

Meanwhile, a federal administrative-law judge is considering whether to dismiss the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing.

This is the first step in what’s expected to be a long legal battle that could take years. The NLRB filed the complaint April 20. The case started Tuesday in Seattle, and the judge will likely take a month or two to rule. The losing party can then appeal the decision to the labor board. After that, the case could go through the federal court system and possibly all the way to the Supreme Court.

Boeing is confident it will eventually prevail in the federal court system, but wouldn’t be surprised if it loses before the labor courts, which it maintains are controlled by the NLRB.

Some are concerned that the uncertainty surrounding this case will encourage other companies to leave the country.

Boeing’s a success story,” said Fred Wszolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute. “They’re one of the manufacturers that makes things here and exports there. They’re what we need more of in America.”

Since coming here, the company has made an immediate impact on the town. Boeing opened the plant for training last week, after two years of planning and construction. Workers will start building the first 787 Dreamliner in July.

By 2013, the goal is to build three planes a month here. Their efforts will complement the seven planes a month the company expects from the original plant in Puget Sound.

Boeing is quickly winning favor with the community. The company has promised to bring 3,800 jobs here, when all is said and done. So far, they’ve hired more than 1,000 workers. It’s an exciting time for North Charleston.

“Everybody in South Carolina has just been very welcoming and generous to us,” Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said. “The community itself just seems to be really involved in what we’re doing and interested in what we’re doing.”

The impact goes beyond the staff Boeing is hiring. The company also is supporting a number of local suppliers, and encouraging other existing suppliers to move here. In turn, they are hiring even more locals, who are investing in the local economy at malls and restaurants and grocery stores.

Bryan Derreberry, president of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, said for every employee Boeing hires, it creates three to four more positions for suppliers to fill with local help.

Mr. Whitman, who runs a staffing agency, has helped Boeing find 60 employees, so far. His revenue is up 295 percent since he started working with Boeing to fill these new jobs.

“They’re by far my biggest customer,” he said.

Boeing’s business has helped him re-hire employees like Jack Beabout, who was laid off for a short time.

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