Machinists Union Sues South Carolina Governor, Labor Secretary Over Organizing Rights


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., January 20, 2011 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is suing South Carolina’s new Republican governor over her pledge to use state resources to deprive South Carolina citizens of rights guaranteed by federal labor law and the 1st and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit, filed today in U.S. District Court in Charleston, SC, charges Republican Gov. Nikki Haley with violating the federal constitutional and statutory rights to free speech, free association and due process by establishing a State governmental policy of hostility to unions and workers seeking to join unions. The IAM and the South Carolina AFL-CIO filed the suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which prohibits state officials from acting in a way that deprives citizens of Federally-protected rights.

The IAM suit also names Catherine Templeton as a co-defendant. Templeton is Gov. Haley’s pick to head South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“Gov. Haley placed her hand on a bible and swore to defend the Constitution of the United States,” said IAM Southern Territory Vice President Bob Martinez. “But her stated intention is to actively oppose workers in South Carolina who wish to exercise their legal right to join a union. There is nothing in the governor’s oath of office that gives her the right to choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore.”

On December 8, 2010, Governor Haley announced she would nominate union avoidance attorney Catherine Templeton to head South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR), declaring unequivocally, “We’re going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it.”

“By tasking Ms Templeton to lead the fight against union organizing in South Carolina, and specifically against the IAM at the Boeing facility in North Charleston, Gov. Haley is requesting a state official to violate the very law she is charged with enforcing,” said Martinez. “The state has no business whatsoever taking sides or exerting influence in a worker’s decision to join or not to join a union.”

Full text of the lawsuit is available here.

The IAM represents more than 30,000 Boeing workers and is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, with nearly 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries. For more information about the IAM, visit www.goiam.org.