Alcoa disputes Romney’s claim about job loss
Des Moines Register // Jennifer Jacobs
Published at 2:14 PM CST
Alcoa officials and business leaders dismissed an assertion from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that a federal labor board’s actions could threaten jobs at the Alcoa plant in Iowa.
“No, we don’t see that happening,” Alcoa spokesman Michael Belwood told The Des Moines Register just before President Barack Obama’s visit today.
Romney in a telephone interview on Monday said that National Labor Relations Board’s actions against aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. could result in job losses nationally and in Iowa.
Boeing is accused of trying to move its Washington-based assembly line for its 787 airliner to a new nonunion factory in South Carolina as retaliation for past strikes in Washington.
Romney has complained about the federal board before, and on Monday said its decision to file a complaint against Boeing for unfair labor practices “slanted the field toward labor bosses.”
The Alcoa Davenport Works produces parts for Boeing, including for 787 airliners.
But the outcome of the NLRB hearing – whether it’s in favor of Boeing or against – will have no impact on this plant, the Alcoa spokesman said.
Alcoa is growing, Belwood said. It has added 240 jobs since Dec. 1 and it has 60 more to fill in July and August.
“The outlook is very good for the industry and for this plant,” Belwood said.
Obama didn’t mention the Boeing dispute during his remarks at Alcoa today.
Teresa Wahlert, head of Iowa Workforce Development, said the National Labor Relations Board is an independent board and the president doesn’t control its decisions other than to appoint new members as terms expire.
Mary Vermeer Andringa, president and chief executive officer of Vermeer Corporation in Pella and head of the National Association of Manufacturers, said there are more connections in the supply chain than people realize, but it’s doubtful the situation with Boeing will affect Alcoa.
And U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, said Romney made it sound like a final decision has been made to block Boeing from opening its South Carolina plant.
The reality is, the hearing process is at its beginning stages, Braley said.
“(Romney) obviously doesn’t understand how the National Labor Relations Board works,” Braley said.
And Boeing will either make 787 airlines in Washington exclusively, or at plants in both Washington and South Carolina, Braley said.
“Either way, the number of planes under contract won’t change,” he said.
That means Alcoa won’t lose jobs like Romney implied, Braley said.
Braley said he thinks Romney was making claims simply to score political points against a president he wants to replace.