Labor’s “Southern Strategy” to unionize the large nonunion auto industry has overall been a failure, but their dream lives on. Now the UAW will be joined in the clouds by the International Association of Machinists, which has launched an effort to organize the unopened Airbus facility in Mobile, Alabama, as well as Airbus suppliers, and continues attempts to organize Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina site. The Airbus location in Mobile will not open until 2018 and will employ in excess of 1,000. According to the Machinists, “the IAM office [in Mobile] will also provide organizing support and information for workers employed at the dozens of area vendors which will supply the Airbus assembly line.”
Apparently the IAM thinks that they will be more welcome in Alabama then they were in Charleston. When IAM organizers made house calls to Boeing employees in Charleston, some of the employees met the IAM at the door with guns, telling the organizers to get off of their property.
The IAM will have a tough sell to Airbus and Boeing and their supplier work forces. Apart from the union’s own brand of nepotism (the President’s twenty-eight year old son is paid $175,000.00 a year as a bylaws consultant); the IAM’s confrontational “good union, evil employer” style will not resonate with employees in the Southeast. It’s understandable why the IAM is interested in unionizing at Boeing and Airbus - the union has its own private aviation fleet, including pilots on its payroll.