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War of words, diapers as Boeing campaigns against union in South Carolina

Boeing is taking the gloves off to fight the Machinists union with everything it’s got.

Monday, it was a video that starts with a brooding, dark Seattle skyline looking pretty much like Mordor. Tuesday, a heaping pile of diapers.

A vote by Boeing’s production workers in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 15 will determine whether the International Association of Machinists will represent them. It has sparked a feverish, over-the-top propaganda war.

Every day, Boeing issues a new video on a company website dedicated to convincing the workers that they should reject the union.

Monday’s video contrasts the current state of the plant in South Carolina, where workers “are creating a great future for our kids,” with the divisiveness that the IAM allegedly could bring. To drive that home, it starts with an ominous Seattle skyline that resembles the land of shadow from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”

Turns out it’s populated not by sword-wielding orcs, but by always-striking machinists holding picket signs.

Not shown are the production lines in Renton and Everett, where those same machinists last year rolled out Boeing jets at record levels.

On Tuesday, Boeing pulled a different stunt to grab the attention of its South Carolina employees.

It set up two displays in workers’ break rooms, one with a table overflowing with a huge pile of diapers and kids clothes, and the other with groceries. In each case it was said to be $800 worth — the amount the union would take out of an employee’s paycheck every year in dues, a sign above the displays made clear.

In case anyone wondered whether this was just heartless corporate messaging, Boeing promises to donate the items on display to the Lowcountry Orphan Relief Fund and Lowcountry Food Bank in South Carolina.

The Machinists union’s Facebook page for persuading Boeing workers to vote for union representation shows a photo of the diaper-laden table with lots of comments from IAM supporters.

“There is a reason they don’t want a union in the plant and it has nothing to do with saving the employees $800,” posted David Story, an electrician at an IAM local in Alabama. “It has to do with saving the company from the negotiated wages.”

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