The PJ Tatler

NLRB to Boeing: Nice business ya got there...

The National Labor Relations Board is out to destroy state right-to-work laws. Boeing is to be its test case.

NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon today issued a complaint against the Boeing Company alleging that it violated federal labor law by deciding to transfer a second production line to a non-union facility in South Carolina for discriminatory reasons.

Boeing announced in 2007 that it planned to assemble seven 787 Dreamliner airplanes per month in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, where its employees have long been represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The company later said that it would create a second production line to assemble an additional three planes a month to address a growing backlog of orders. In October 2009, Boeing announced that it would locate that second line at the non-union facility.

In repeated statements to employees and the media, company executives cited the unionized employees’ past strike activity and the possibility of strikes occurring sometime in the future as the overriding factors in deciding to locate the second line in the non-union facility.

The plant in South Carolina now employs about 1,000 people. The NLRB, in its political wisdom, says Boeing can keep the plant and the employees. It just can’t use the plant for the reason the plant was built in the first place. The only reason this is an issue seems to be that South Carolina is one of the 23 states with right-to-work laws, laws that keep unions from forcing themselves on workers. Not coincidentally, right-to-work states consistently outperform the union states.

Red State has quite a bit of background on the longstanding fight between Boeing and the union, which led eventually to the company making a business decision to set up the South Carolina production line. The NLRB under Obama has become nothing so much as the voice of Big Labor. In 2010, President Obama bypassed the Senate and appointed Craig Becker to the NLRB. Becker’s career as a union lawyer, representing both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, gives away the point of putting him on that board. Former NLRB board member John Raudabaugh says the action against Boeing is shocking.

“It seems to me that Boeing has done nothing wrong,” Raudabaugh said.

He says the union leaders were informed well in advance that Boeing was looking elsewhere for new production.

“The union representatives had repeated meetings with the company,” he said. “They fully understood the reasons that Boeing was undertaking and they have a legal obligation to communicate to their members. I find this just amazing, I can’t believe that Boeing won’t prevail.”

The discord with the complaint and support for Boeing doesn’t stop with Raudabaugh. Gov. Nikki Haley issued a statement saying the claim was “an absolute assault on South Carolina’s right to work status.” She continued by saying, “this bullying will not be tolerated.”