published Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Unjust boost to Big Labor

An appalling misuse of the power of the federal government is unfolding in a labor dispute that pits Boeing Co. and the right-to-work state of South Carolina against union-heavy Washington state and the National Labor Relations Board.

Boeing recently opened an assembly line near Charleston, S.C., for its new 787 aircraft. That did not sit well with Big Labor in Washington state, which wanted the jobs performed by unionized workers there. So the NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing, claiming that Boeing’s decision to build in South Carolina was “retaliation” against unionized workers in Washington state for past strikes.

But as Boeing has pointed out, no unionized workers in Washington lost jobs because of its decision to build in South Carolina. In fact, Boeing has still been adding other jobs in Washington alongside the new ones it is creating in South Carolina. Neither was anyone in Washington state demoted, and no one’s wages were cut.

Even the liberal Washington Post noted in an editorial supporting Boeing: “The allegation that the company ‘transferred’ jobs out of [Washington] state is unconvincing because the jobs in South Carolina are new.”

Boeing simply chose to build its new facility in right-to-work South Carolina so that it wouldn’t have to pay the high, unionized labor costs it would face by putting all its new jobs in Washington.

But the Democrat-controlled NLRB wants to force Boeing to relocate the jobs to Washington state, leaving the workers in South Carolina high and dry.

That may please the Obama administration’s union backers, but it is not an appropriate use of the power of the NLRB. Boeing is not “retaliating” against unions. It is trying to be cost-competitive in tough times.

Sixteen governors around the country have asked that the NLRB’s unjustified complaint against Boeing be dropped and that the company be allowed to locate jobs in whatever state it wishes.

That is the right course of action.

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JoeHill said...

In 2007, Boeing had announced plans to build new production lines at their union plant in Washington. In 2008, the union went on an 58 day strike. In 2009, Boeing announced plans to set those production lines up in South Carolina instead. In an interview with a Seattle newspaper, a Boeing executive was reported to cite the strike as a reason for the change.

It's the NLRB's course of action that is right, not Boeing's.

June 26, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.
acerigger said...

Several news outlets have erroneously reported in recent days that the National Labor Relations Board has ordered the Boeing Company to close its operations in South Carolina. [...] In fact, the complaint issued on April 20 by the Acting General Counsel does not seek to have the South Carolina facility closed. It seeks to halt the transfer of a specific piece of production work due to allegations that the transfer was unlawfully motivated. The complaint explicitly states that Boeing may place work where it likes, including at its South Carolina facility, as long as the decision is not made for discriminatory reasons. In addition, the Board has not yet considered or ruled on the allegations in the complaint. Under the NLRB's statute, the General Counsel and the Board are separate and independent, with the General Counsel functioning as prosecutor and the Board functioning as a court. The case is scheduled to be tried before an administrative law judge, acting under the Board's authority. That decision could then be appealed to the Board itself for its decision. (posted 4/26/11) [NLRB.gov, accessed 6/21/11]

June 26, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.
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