WFI - NLRB/Boeing in the News

Three Employees File in Suppor of Boing in NLRB Case

Melanie Trottman
June 3, 2011
Another group has mobilized against the National Labor Relations Board’s attempt to force Boeing to move a production line to Washington state from South Carolina: Boeing Co. workers in South Carolina who say they’ll “almost certainly” lose their jobs if the federal agency wins its case.
The group of three Boeing employees filed a motion Wednesday night to intervene in the NLRB’s complaint against the aircraft maker, saying they have a “direct and concrete stake” in the outcome and  ”relevant evidence ”  to present in Boeing’s defense.

The NLRB, run by Obama administration appointees, has alleged that Boeing retaliated against union workers  in Washington by adding the nonunion plant in South Carolina to assemble additional 787 Dreamliner planes. Boeing, which hired more than 1,000 workers and spent about $750 million to build the plant, has said the allegations are groundless.

The Boeing employees – Dennis Murray, Cynthia Ramaker and Meredith Going –are the latest group to come to the company’s defense. Congressional Republicans and business groups have been saying for weeks that the complaint is frivolous and could cost jobs and economic growth, both in South Carolina and elsewhere if other companies choose not to expand for fear of NLRB interference. The conservative National Right to Work Foundation has provided free legal assistance to the Boeing employees.

Only one of the three employees will be working at the newly built plant, which is scheduled to start assembling 787s in July. The other two work at Boeing facilities nearby but say their jobs are related to the 787 and are therefore at risk of being transferred.

In their motion – filed with the NLRB’s region 19 in Seattle, where the union-driven complaint was first sought – the employees say they have evidence that Boeing didn’t retaliate against union workers in Washington. And they say Boeing has been friendly to union workers in South Carolina. When Boeing bought one of the pre-existing 787 facilities in the state, the production employees working there at the time were represented by the Machinists union and Boeing was “more than willing to work with” the union, the motion says.  Still, one of the three employees now seeking to intervene successfully led an effort to decertify the union at that plant in September 2009, in part to improve Boeing’s chances of building the new facility, the motion says.

Boeing, in an emailed statement Friday, said the employees’ decision to file the motion “is one they made on their own and is fully within their rights under the National Labor Relations Act-which protects the rights of all employees, whether they choose to be represented by a union or not.”  The company added that the position the employees are taking is “understandable … given the potential impact of the NLRB’s proposed remedy on the workforce in Charleston. ”

Alexander: Obama, unions and NLRB hurting job growth
The Hill
Jamie Klatell
June 4, 2011

The Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board and unions are standing in the way of job creation and economic recovery, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Saturday.

He said that companies from Boeing to foreign care manufacturers want to hire American workers, but union demands and Democratic policies are prohibiting that.

"Our goal should be to make it easier and cheaper to create private-sector jobs in this country," Alexander said in the GOP's weekly address. "Giving workers the right to join or not to join a union helps to create a competitive environment in which more manufacturers like Nissan and Boeing can make here what they sell here."

The case of Boeing has become a rallying cry for conservatives who believe the government is interfering too much with the economy. The NLRB last month accused Boeing of retaliating against its workers in Washington state who had gone on strike by moving some jobs to South Carolina, a "right-to-work" state, which would be illegal. The labor board asked a judge to force Boeing to move those jobs back to Washington. 

"The National Labor Relations Board moved to stop America's largest exporter, the Boeing Company, from building airplanes at a non-union plant in South Carolina, suggesting that a unionized American company can’t expand its operations into one of the 22 states with right-to-work laws, which protect a worker's right to join or not to join a union," Alexander said.

As the Obama administration is touting the recovery of Detroit's automakers, Alexander said he had been able to attract Japanese car companies to Tennessee when he was governor some 30 years ago because of its right-to-work laws.

"In 1980 Nissan chose Tennessee, a state with almost no auto jobs," he said. "Today auto assembly plants and suppliers provide one-third of Tennessee's manufacturing jobs. Tennessee is the home for production of the Leaf, Nissan's all-electric vehicle, and the batteries that power it."

Rep. Chaffetz Introduces Bill to Check NLRB's Litigation Power's
Ian Smith
June 3, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board has been making headlines of late because of its complaint against Boeing for allegedly retaliating against union workers by moving some of its operations to South Carolina. And perhaps not surprisingly, the NLRB has been getting more attention from lawmakers lately too.

Case in point, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced H.R. 2118 in an attempt to rein in the litigation power of the NLRB.

According to the history given by Chaffetz that led to the introduction of the bill, voters in Utah, Arizona, South Carolina, and South Dakota voted to approve amendments to their state constitutions preventing unionizing without elections. The amendments also required the voting process to be done via secret ballot. In response to this, the NLRB threatened to sue each state, contending that the approved state amendments conflicted with the rights afforded to individuals under the National Labor Relations Act.

According to the statement from Chaffetz, H.R. 2118 would bring the NLRB's litigating authority in line with most other federal agencies.  Under H.R. 2118, the NLRB would retain authority to sue individuals and companies, enforce or defend its orders, and appear in federal appeals courts. However, the bill strikes NLRB's ability to sue a state on the grounds that a sovereign state action conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act.  The legislation would in no way prohibit the federal government from enforcing federal law over conflicting state laws.

"H.R. 2118 ensures that states that choose to have pro-growth, right-to-work policies will not be intimidated and threatened by the NLRB," said Chaffetz. "Deciding whether or not a state action violates federal law should be made by the DOJ, not a board of union friendly, politically motivated appointees."

Full text of H.R. 2118 (PDF)
Letter sent to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff by the NLRB informing him of the intention to file a lawsuit (PDF)