By Don McIntosh
Precision Castparts Corporation (PCC) has lost its marathon effort to avoid recognizing a union of welders. On March 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., denied PCC’s appeal and granted a motion by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to move forward enforcing the law.
A group of 100 PCC welders voted 54 to 38 to join Machinists District Lodge W24 on Sept. 22, 2017, and for three-and-a-half years since then, PCC has refused to recognize their union and negotiate a contract. PCC argued that a welders-only bargaining unit was inappropriate, because they work across multiple departments on three separate campuses. But that argument lost at every level. Now PCC’s only recourse is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. At press time, there was no word on whether PCC planned that.
PCC—a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s investment firm Berkshire Hathaway—is a key Boeing supplier and has been hit hard by the drop-off in aircraft manufacturing. After the pandemic hit, PCC laid off nearly 900 workers in Portland, Clackamas and Redmond, more than three-fifths of the workforce. More than a third of the welders were also laid off, and about 62 remain.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet with all the layoffs that have taken place, but at the end of the day it’s about finally getting justice for the folks who are there,” said District Lodge W24 Directing Business Representative Wayne Thompson about the latest court decision. Thompson said once assembly at Boeing picks up again, welders could be recalled.
Now that PCC’s appeal has been denied, the NLRB can follow up on four pending unfair labor practice charges, including the charge that it unlawfully refused to bargain. District Lodge W24 on March 19 sent another demand to begin bargaining and asked the company to supply the information they’ll need.
“I believe fully that this is going to be every bit of a battle the last three years has been,” Thompson said.