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Precision Castparts Loses Unionization Appeal

March 22, 2021
The investment-casting aerospace supplier had challenged an NLRB ruling that it committed unfair labor practice when it refused to engage in bargaining with about 100 welders in 2017.

Precision Castparts Corp. lost a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in a challenge it had brought to a National Labor Relations Board conclusion concerning employees’ efforts to organize a union in 2017. The NLRB found that PCC committed an unfair labor practice when it refused to engage in bargaining with about 100 welders working for its PCC Structurals subsidiary in Portland, OR, and challenged their effort to affiliate with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union.

Now, reportedly, the union plans to send a “demand letter” to Precision Castparts to force it to begin negotiating a contract.

Precision Castparts has three business units: Investment Cast Products, including PCC Structurals and PCC Airfoils; Forged Products, including Wyman-Gordon, PCC Energy Group, Titanium Metals Corp. (TIMET), and Special Metals Corp. (SMC); and Airframe Products, including PCC Fasteners and PCC Aerostructures. While it is heavily focused on aerospace manufacturing, it also supplies energy and industrial markets.

The 2017 vote by the welders was the start of an attempt by the IAM union to organize PCC workers, which at that time totaled about 30,000. About 20% of the workers at that time were subject to collective-bargaining agreements. Ninety-two welders participated in the 2017 vote, of whom 54 endorsed the organizing effort.

Last year PCC implemented an extensive downsizing program, reducing its total workforce by about 30% amid a severe downturn in commercial aerospace demand. Also last year, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. took a $9.8-billion writedown on Precision Castparts, which it bought for $32.1 billion in 2016.