NLRB to Boeing – build 787 in union state or we sue
It is a battle between a business’s best interests and about its fundamental right to make decisions about how it conducts its business and the government’s "right" to interfere and dictate how and where it will do its business.
In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina.
One of the reasons the South has thrived while the Rust Belt has, well, rusted, is companies have taken advantage of the “right to work” rules in most Southern states to locate there without fear of work stoppages at every turn. That would seem to be a fundamental right that any business should enjoy, the right to locate their business where they feel their best interests are served. What the government is saying is that’s not true – if you have union employees elsewhere.
In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes. The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said it was illegal for companies to take actions in retaliation against workers for exercising the right to strike.
First, it’s not “retaliation” if the facts in the story are correct. Boeing has hired 2,000 more employees – union employees – at the Washington state plant since the decision was made to add a second assembly line and do it in South Carolina. So A) it’s not taking jobs away and B) the additional jobs since the decision hardly speak of “retaliation” in any sense a rational person would be able to discern.
Second, the “complaint” comes as the plant in South Carolina nears completion and 1,000 workers have been hired there.
So, given those facts, this is a crap statement (that’s technical talk):
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Solomon said: “A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law.”
This is the usual duplicitous talk you get from this administration – acknowledge the right of the employer to make business decisions based on their economic decisions and then immediately deny what was just acknowledged. This too is crap":
“Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights,” said the union’s vice president, Rich Michalski.
No, they haven’t sent such a message. What they’ve said is they have a backlog of orders and can’t afford (business interest) work stoppages every 3 years while unions negotiate a new contract. That is a legitimate concern. And they want some sort of continuity built into the productions system that accounts for that probability. No one is denying union workers their “rights” in Washington nor have any union employees been fired because of them – again, since the decision to locate in SC was made, 2,000 additional union employees have been hired there.
What’s is happening here is government has chosen to take sides and is attempting to intimidate Boeing. The side it has picked – surprise – is the union side. And it plans to use its power to attempt to force a company into doing something which is not in its best business interests, despite the lip service Solomon gives that “right”. But there’s no “hostile business climate” here, is there?
The company also said it had decided to expand in South Carolina in part to protect business continuity and to reduce the damage to its finances and reputation from future work stoppages.
And in a free country, Boeing would have every right to expect to be able to do that without interference.