Pressure Mounts Over ‘Preposterous’ NLRB Complaint Against Boeing
McClatchy Newspapers reports on the Republican presidential debate in Greenville, S.C., “South Carolina’s Haley leaves mark on GOP presidential debate“:
With so few candidates at the debate, [Gov. Nikki] Haley played a supporting role as the Fox News moderators took up her challenge to presidential candidates to weigh in on a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Boeing Charleston’s plant.
Pawlenty jumped first, claiming President Barack Obama’s administration crossed a new line in opposing Boeing’s decision to locate outside of its home base of Washington. “It’s a preposterous decision,” he said.
Minnesota Public Radio, “Pawlenty scores some points in first GOP debate“:
On the domestic front, Pawlenty drew wild applause from the audience when he stood with South Carolinians over a local labor issue involving Boeing aircraft jobs.
“You have this administration, through the National Labor Relations Board, telling a private company that they cannot relocate to South Carolina and provide jobs in this state. And they are good-paying jobs, and they’re needed jobs. It’s a preposterous decision and position of this administration.”
It’s not just a local labor issue. It’s a national issue of tremendous importance to businesses across the nation, who are deeply concerned about a National Labor Relations Board that arrogates to itself the power to determine where a company can locate new production facilities.
And although the Republicans have seized on the issue while Democrats, tied to organized labor, have remained mostly silent, this is also not inherently a partisan issue. The idea that a government agency can reinterpret precedent and ignore the facts of a case to shut down a billion-dollar operation employing more than 1,000 people should alarm those of all political affiliations who believe in private-sector growth.
The NLRB’s account of the facts of the case is suspect. Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) of the House Education and Workforce Committee has sent a letter (available here) to Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel who brought the complaint against Boeing.
The complaint references alleged statements made by Boeing officials between October 2009 and March 2010 that work stoppages were one reason for choosing the new location.
When asked about the charge in June 2010, the NLRB regional director Richard Ahearn told The Seattle Times “it would have been an easier case for the union to argue if Boeing had moved existing work from Everett, rather than placing new work in Charleston.” He was also unable to point to any “bright line” rule to determine whether the company’s actions violated the law. Finally, the regional director stated “an initial ruling is weeks away.”
The letter requests NLRB documents underlying the decision. Bloomberg reports, “Republicans Rally Behind Boeing Over Labor Board Complaint.”
On the Senate side, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and 18 other Senate Republicans have written President Obama calling on him to withdraw the nomination of Solomon — the NLRB’s general counsel job requires Senate confirmation — and NLRB member Craig Becker, the former SEIU lawyer who serves on the board via a recess appointment. From FoxNews.com, “Senate Republicans Threaten to Fight NLRB Nominations Over Boeing Complaint“:
A group of Senate Republicans fired off a letter to President Obama Thursday, threatening to “vigorously oppose” a couple of key nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after it issued a complaint that they see as an assault on right-to-work states.
The letter is the latest turn in the battle between the Obama administration and lawmakers from non-union states.
We have yet to see a comment from the White House, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), or the two Democratic Senators from Washington, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, but the Senators’ letter finally elicits a comment from a Washington Democrats, albeit via a spokesman. From “Feud over nonunion Boeing plant crosses state, party lines“:
Rep. Norm Dicks, a Washington state Democrat and longtime Boeing ally, said the Republicans should hold their fire and await the outcome of an administrative law judge’s hearing on the dispute next month in Seattle.Dicks, who was instrumental in steering a long-disputed $35 billion contract for Air Force refueling tankers to Boeing – and which eventually could be worth more than $100 billion – accused his GOP colleagues of political meddling.
“The attempt by this group of Republican (lawmakers) to muzzle the agency responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act before the matter can be reviewed in a public proceeding is inappropriate and premature,” said Dicks spokesman George Behan.
With respect, the NLRB’s decision was so extreme and the implications for the company, South Carolina workers, and the U.S. economy are so great, that silence would be irresponsible.