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Machinists seek union vote for Boeing South Carolina workers

Boeing Co's logo is seen above the front doors of its largest jetliner factory in Everett, Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott

By Alwyn Scott and Ankit Ajmera

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said it planned to petition on Friday for about 2,850 workers at Boeing Co's (BA.N) assembly plant in South Carolina to vote on union representation.

The petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which had been expected, likely would allow workers to hold a secret-ballot election in the next few months.

On average, votes take place about three weeks after a petition is filed, IAM spokesman Mike Evans said.

The union called off a vote in April 2015 after what it called "political interference" from state lawmakers and "misinformation" spread among workers.

The union, in a regulatory filing on Friday, said it sought to address concerns about "subjective raises, inconsistent scheduling policies and a lack of respect on the shop floor."

Evans said the union was convinced workers were ready to vote for a union and that an election would be held this year.

Boeing said on Friday that a union was not in the "best interest" of its workers in South Carolina.

"We believe our teammates deserve to keep their hard-earned money in their pockets while continuing to work with the company to drive meaningful change," Joan Robinson-Berry, Boeing vice president and general manager, South Carolina, said in a statement.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state where employees can't be forced to join a union or pay dues even when covered by a union contract. In April 2015, it had the second-lowest union membership in the United States.

Boeing's workforce at its main commercial aircraft factories in Washington state is largely unionized.

The South Carolina plant, which opened in 2011, makes 787 Dreamliners and is the only Boeing jetliner assembly line outside of Washington state. It is the sole producer of the 787-10, Boeing's largest Dreamliner.

The first 787-10 is currently being assembled in South Carolina. It is due for its first flight this year, and the first customer delivery is expected in 2018.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in Seattle and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Savio D'Souza)