WFI - NLRB Continues to Stay in the Headlines


Committee requests NLRB documents about Boeing, unions

Charleston Regional Business Journal

Matt Tomisic and Ashley Fletcher Frampton

May 26, 2011

The House Oversight Committee is requiring the National Labor Relations Board to hand over documents by Friday about its complaint against Boeing Co. and its investigation of union election laws in four states — including South Carolina.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sent Lafe Solomon, acting general council of the NLRB, a letter May 12 requesting four categories of information:

  • Materials relating to the investigation of Boeing, including communications from the Office of the General Counsel and the NLRB
  • Documents, emails, call logs and communications among the office, the NLRB and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  • Documents, emails, call logs and communications among the office, the NLRB and Boeing
  • Documents related to investigations of union election laws in Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah, all of which have passed amendments requiring secret ballot votes for union elections.

On April 20, the NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing over its expansion to South Carolina, where the company is building a second final assembly and delivery facility for its 787 Dreamliner. The first line is in Everett, Wash. Boeing already operates two plants adjacent to Charleston International Airport in North Charleston to manufacture and integrate sections of the 787.

According to the complaint, the expansion illegally transferred work to nonunion facilities in North Charleston, and the NLRB is calling for Boeing to open another assembly line in Washington state. Boeing opened the North Charleston facility because of past union strikes in Washington state and to prevent future strikes, according to the complaint.

Separately, in January, Solomon advised Arizona, South Dakota, Utah and South Carolina that unless they blocked enforcement of constitutional amendments requiring secret-ballot votes for union elections, the NLRB would sue.

On May 6, the NLRB filed a lawsuit challenging the amendments in Arizona and South Dakota. South Carolina and Utah have similar amendments, but the NLRB said that, to conserve resources, it decided not to file lawsuits against those two states. Solomon notified them, however, that the labor relations board reserves the right to sue later.

Solomon said that the National Labor Relations Act gives private-sector employees two options for organizing. The first is the collection of signatures expressing support for union representation, leaving it up to the employer to recognize the union. If the employer does not recognize the union voluntarily, a secret-ballot election — the second option — must be held.


Obama versus Boeing

House GOP Takes Aim At Job-Killing Regulators



May 26, 2011

The Washington Times


House Republicans are fighting back against President Obama’s misuse of administrative power to punish right-to-work states. On Tuesday, Rep. Tim Scott introduced legislation to protect a Boeing 787 Dreamliner production plant in his South Carolina district from the outrageous complaint filed by pro-union thugs at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The agency wants to force the airline manufacturer to close up operations in Charleston and move the jobs to Puget Sound, where the labor bosses reign, because setting up in South Carolina was allegedly an example of “unfair labor practices.”


The Job Protection Act would, if enacted, clarify that federal law gives the NLRB no power to decide where any U.S. company should or should not do business. “For the NLRB to punish a company for locating in a right-to-work state is an abuse of federal executive power,” Mr. Scott explained to The Washington Times’ Emily Miller. “This administration has clearly overstepped its bounds through the inappropriate actions of an unelected regulatory board.”


Mr. Scott’s district would take a big hit if the plant, which is slated to open for production in July, were to close its doors. The facility would create at least 4,000 direct hires from Boeing and an estimated 4,000 indirect hires. Local suppliers and others firms in nearby communities would also receive a boost from the large production order. “Unemployment in South Carolina is above 9 percent,” Mr. Scott said. “This isn’t helping.” Mr. Scott called for Mr. Obama to fire the man responsible for the decision, NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, saying, “Taxpayers should not be paying a salary for someone whose actions are destroying jobs.”


House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, Minnesota Republican, has been trying to secure documents from the NLRB related to the Boeing case. So far he has received a short reply and no documents from the agency. “The NLRB is not immune from congressional oversight or public scrutiny,” Mr. Kline said in a statement. The committee is requesting information on the Boeing case because “there are legitimate questions over public statements made by NLRB officials and the timing of its complaint.” The NLRB needs to come clean on how and why it has taken action against Boeing.


The way the White House has treated this major employer is a perfect example of why unemployment stands at 9 percent. Instead of allowing the Boeing’s leadership team to make the decisions in the best interest of its employees and shareholders, unelected Beltway bureaucrats demand the right to substitute their personal judgment. It’s just a bit suspicious that the NLRB decision appeals to the liberal union demographic that is going to be playing such a key role in the 2012 elections.


If Mr. Obama wants a second term, he ought instead to focus on doing what it takes to get America working. The only way to move the needle on unemployment is to get businesses hiring again, which will happen when government gets out of the way.


Labor's Hail Mary Pass
Harold Meyerson
May 24, 2011
The Washington Post
This is a maddening time for anyone concerned about the lives of working-class Americans. The frustration and anger that suffused AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s declaration last week that labor would distance itself from the Democratic Party was both clear and widely noted. Not so widely noted has been a shift in the organizing strategy of two of labor’s leading institutions — Trumka’s AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union — that reflects a belief that the American labor movement may be on the verge of extinction and must radically change its game.
It took a multitude of Democratic sins and failures to push Trumka to denounce, if not exactly renounce, the political party that has been labor’s home at least since the New Deal. In a speech at the National Press Club last Friday, Trumka said that Republicans were wielding a “wrecking ball” against the rights and interests of working Americans. But Democrats, he added, were “simply standing aside” as the Republicans moved in for the kill.
The primary source of labor’s frustration has been the consistent inability of the Democrats to strengthen the legislation that once allowed workers to join unions without fear of employer reprisals. American business has poked so many holes in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act that it now affords workers no protections at all. Beginning with Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, every time the Democrats have held the White House and strong majorities in both houses of Congress, bills that strengthened workers’ rights to unionize have commanded substantial Democratic support — but never quite enough to win a Senate supermajority. And during that time, the unionized share of the private-sector workforce has dwindled from roughly 30 percent to less than 7 percent.
Many union activists viewed the 2009-10 battle for the most recent iteration of labor law reform — the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — as labor’s last stand. EFCA could never attain the magic 60-vote threshold required to cut off a filibuster, despite the presence, at one point, of 60 Democratic senators. Given the rate at which private-sector unionization continues to fall (which in turn imperils support for public-sector unions), many of labor’s most thoughtful leaders now consider the Democrats’ inability to enact EFCA a death sentence for the American labor movement.
“It’s over,” one of labor’s leading strategists told me this month. Indeed, since last November’s elections, half a dozen high-ranking labor leaders from a range of unions have told me they believe that private-sector unions may all but disappear within the next 10 years.
While some unions still wage more conventional organizing campaigns, the campaign that best captures the desperation of American labor today is that of the SEIU. Perhaps the best-funded and most strategically savvy of American unions, SEIU has embarked on a door-to-door canvass in the minority neighborhoods of 17 major American cities. The goal isn’t to enroll the people behind those doors in a conventional union but, rather, into a mass organization of the unemployed and the underpaid that can turn out votes in 2012 and act as an ongoing pressure group for job creation and worker rights during (presumably) Barack Obama’s second term.
“We realized we could organize one million more people into the union and it wouldn’t in itself really change anything,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told me earlier this year. “We needed to do something else — something more.”
The SEIU’s program — like its semi-counterpart in the AFL-CIO’s Working America program, a door-to-door canvass in white working-class neighborhoods — will surely help Democratic candidates, despite the frustrations that nearly all labor leaders feel toward the party. But, like Working America, it signals a strategic shift by American labor, whose ranks have been so reduced that it now must recruit people to a non-union, essentially non-dues-paying organization to amass the political clout that its own diminished ranks can no longer deliver. Since labor law now effectively precludes workplace representation, unions are turning to representing workers anywhere and in any capacity they can. It’s time, they’ve concluded, for the Hail Mary pass.
The unions’ support for the Democrats’ party committees has already diminished considerably, though, as Trumka made clear last week, they will continue to support individual pro-union Democrats. But the greater change in union strategy is the one that’s been forced upon them. They are going outside the workplace. They have no place else to turn.