WASHINGTON, D.C. | December 12, 2011 -
Last week, the Obama National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sent another signal to America’s job creators that it’s better to do business somewhere else. For nine months, the NLRB accused The Boeing Company of breaking the law when it decided to build airplanes in South Carolina. As punishment, the NLRB tried to force Boeing to shut down the South Carolina plant and move the work to Washington state.
After claiming time and again this was a simple case of an employer violating the rights of workers, the NLRB dropped its legal action last Friday. Did the NLRB see the error of its ways? Or was something more sinister in the works? Enter the NLRB’s union allies in Washington state, who just days earlier reached a deal with Boeing executives on a new four year contract. As the Wall Street Journal editorial page exclaimed:
What a sham, or scam, or choose a synonym. On Wednesday, the International Association of Machinists approved a new contract with Boeing in which the company agreed to make its 737 Max jet with union labor in Washington state. Yesterday, after getting the machinist all-clear, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dropped its lawsuit against Boeing's investment in South Carolina.
Has there ever been a more blatant case of a supposedly independent agency siding with a union over management in collective bargaining? …
[It's] hard to resist the conclusion that Boeing felt obliged to make the agreement to save its more than $1 billion investment in South Carolina, where it is building 787s. Boeing might have won a legal battle in the end, but first it would have to run through an administrative law judge, then the politicized and Obama-stacked NLRB, and only then would it get to an appellate court. Meanwhile, its investment was in jeopardy and its legal bill was rising.
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, shares the Wall Street Journal’s outrage. In a statement released moments after the NLRB withdrew its complaint, Chairman Kline stated:
Today’s decision confirms the NLRB’s action against Boeing was nothing more than a shameless campaign to bully an American employer. While I am pleased Boeing and the union agreed to a resolution, thousands of jobs in South Carolina and many more across the country were threatened by the NLRB’s decision to pick winners and losers in a labor dispute.
The damage done to the strength of our workforce and the integrity of the NLRB is significant. The Savannah Morning News summed it up for readers:
If states like Georgia and South Carolina want to create a business-friendly climate for employers like Boeing, the Obama administration shouldn’t use its muscle to yank away the welcome mat. Otherwise, states where workers are not required to join unions are at a huge disadvantage. America’s competitiveness is hurt, too.
All Americans have the right to join a union or not join a union. That right must be protected. But the NLRB’s dismissal of its claims against Boeing — only after the union approved a new contract — confirms that the board is a tool of Big Labor.
This kind of bureaucratic overreach helps explain why so many employers remain on the sidelines and reluctant to create jobs. What employer would hire new workers in this kind of chilling regulatory environment? And the NLRB has put employers on notice that it may exercise these bullying tactics in the future. As Chairman Kline noted, “The need for congressional action has never been more urgent.”
The House of Representatives has taken bipartisan action to prevent the NLRB from dictating where employers can and cannot create work. The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act is commonsense reform that will rein in the NLRB and remove some of the uncertainty facing America’s employers. It is time for the United States Senate to do what the Obama NLRB has failed to do: put workers and job creators first.
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