MIAMI — Amid potential labor action, Boeing delivered the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that was assembled at its plant in North Charleston, South Carolina to United Airlines today; this delivery was significant as it is the 250th Dreamliner aircraft to be delivered.

In a statement, Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager, Boeing South Carolina, explains that “In 2012, we delivered our first South Carolina-built 787-8, and less than three years later, we’re celebrating another significant milestone – our first 787-9 delivery. This is an incredible achievement for Boeing, and I’m proud to be a member of the Boeing South Carolina team.”

Boeing 787
(Credits: Boeing)

“Our customers have told us they love flying on the Dreamliner, and we’re excited to mark yet another first for the aircraft with this delivery from Boeing South Carolina,” said United’s Vice President of Fleet Ron Baur. “We were the first North American carrier to fly the 787-8 in September 2012 and the first to fly 787-9s in September 2014. The Dreamliners have allowed us to fly longer distances with greater fuel efficiency and open new direct routes such as Los Angeles toMelbourne, while providing our customers and employees with a more comfortable flying experience.” This aircraft will be the fourth Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to join United’s fleet.

Boeing has received more than 450 orders for the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner; to date, the manufacturer has delivered a little more than a dozen to several customers around the world, including ANA, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Atlantic. Earlier this month, the FAA cleared Boeing to build and delivery 787-9s from its South Carolina facility.

Delivery Amid Potential Labor Action

This significant delivery comes as Boeing’s biggest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to call for a union vote which could potentially unionize more than 2,400 workers at the North Charleston plant. This move continues to increase tension between Boeing and its labor forces. 

Boeing wasted no time in responding yesterday when the news broke. Beverly Wyse, Boeing South Carolina’s newly appointed vice president and general manager, says “Boeing South Carolina teammates have done what so many people said couldn’t be done. And they did it by working together, engaging every day, and truly committing themselves to the success of our site. And let’s be really clear, the IAM was not part of this success – it was our BSC teammates. In fact, the IAM aggressively opposed it, as publicly demonstrated by their filing of a claim with the National Labor Relations Board, to try to keep our site from even opening. Now, simply by filing this petition, the same union that tried to take our jobs and our work, has already begun to divide our team at a time when we’re just beginning to gel and catch a solid rhythm in production.”

Although, this filling is not necessarily surprising. It is just one of many that have been filed within the last few years as the unions try to unionize the only nonunion Boeing plant which Boeing selected due to several strikes by Boeing workers in Washington six years ago. Last July, Boeing announced that it would manufacture the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in North Charleston which makes it the first a Boeing commercial airliner of any kind to be produced completely outside of Washington.

Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst and consultant at R.W. Mann & Company, Inc., explains that “IAM has the right to attempt to organize, just as Boeing and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have the right to play Whac-A-Mole-with organized labor.”

The NLRB does need to review the filling and ensure that all requirements before a vote can be held, and a hearing has been set for March 26. Now, the waiting game begins.