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Entries in NLRB (175)

Saturday
May142011

WFI - NLRB in the news 

Boeing Lawyers Tells Senate Committee NLRB Suit Could Cost Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs

The Washington Examiner
Philip Klein
5/12/11

If it succeeds, a suit by the National Labor Relations Board seeking to block Boeing from building airplanes in a non-union facility in South Carolina will set a precedent that could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, the company's vice president and general counsel Michael Lutting said at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Most directly, if Boeing is forced to shut down its new factory, it would kill thousands of jobs in South Carolina. But it would also have wider-ranging effects, Luttig argued in testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Applied across the economy, Luttig said, it means that many companies that have production lines in unionized states won't be able to build additional facilities in right-to-work states. And on the flip side, companies won't want to open new factories in unionized states, because they'll be worried that they'll be limited in where they can expand in the future. Still other companies, Luttig said, would locate overseas.

The NLRB complaint calls for moving the new production line to the unionized Washington state, which Luttig described as a “breathtaking substitution of the board for management in the running of American company.”

He also dismissed the NLRB's charge that the factory was built to retaliate against the union.

“No company commits billions of dollars of capital to build a production facility out of spite,” Luttig said.

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GOP Bill Seeks to Undercut Labor Agency in Boeing Case
McClatchy
James Rosen
5/12/11

Thirty-four Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday to protect states' "right-to-work" status and to ban the chief federal labor agency from determining where companies can do business.

The measure is the GOP response to a bid by the top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board to prevent Boeing from opening a South Carolina plant this summer to make its next-generation 787 Dreamliner planes.

Lafe Solomon, the NLRB's acting general counsel, charges that Boeing violated federal labor laws that protect workers' collective-bargaining rights by deciding to build the factory in North Charleston instead of at the aerospace giant's hub in Everett, Wash.

Solomon claims that Boeing executives chose South Carolina, a right-to-work state, to retaliate against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for having led four strikes at its Puget Sound facilities since 1977.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who crafted the measure, said the Boeing case had broad implications.

"This is not just about South Carolina, and it's not just about making airplanes," Alexander said. "This is about jobs in every state in the country, and whether or not manufacturers are going to be able to make in the United States what they sell in the United States."

Obama aides declined to comment on the legislation. NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said the Boeing case didn't threaten the 22 states that had implemented laws banning union membership as a condition of employment.

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Boeing and the Union Berlin Wall
Wall Street Journal
Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore
5/13/10

The Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint last month against Boeing to block production of the company's 787 Dreamliner at a new assembly plant in South Carolina—a "right to-work" state with a law against compulsory union membership. If the NLRB has its way, Dreamliner assembly will return to Washington, a union-shop state, along with more than 1,000 jobs.
 
The NLRB's action, which Boeing will challenge at a hearing next month, is a big deal. It's the first time a federal agency has intervened to tell an American company where it can and cannot operate a plant within the U.S. It lays the foundation of a regulatory wall with one express purpose: to prevent the direct competition of right-to-work states with union-shop states. Why, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently asked on these pages, should Washington have any more right to these jobs than South Carolina?
 
A recent New York Times editorial justified the NLRB decision by arguing that unions are suffering from "the flight of companies to 'Right-to-Work' states where workers cannot be required to join a union." That's for sure, and quite an admission. We've been observing that migration pattern for years, but liberals have denied it's actually happening—until now.
 
Every year we rank the states on their economic competitiveness in a report called "Rich States, Poor States" for the American Legislative Exchange Council. This ranking uses 15 fiscal, tax and regulatory variables to determine which states have policies that are most conducive to prosperity. Two of these 15 policies have consistently stood out as the most important in predicting where jobs will be created and incomes will rise. First, states with no income tax generally outperform high income tax states. Second, states that have right-to-work laws grow faster than states with forced unionism.
 
As of today there are 22 right-to-work states and 28 union-shop states. Over the past decade (2000-09) the right-to-work states grew faster in nearly every respect than their union-shop counterparts: 54.6% versus 41.1% in gross state product, 53.3% versus 40.6% in personal income, 11.9% versus 6.1% in population, and 4.1% versus -0.6% in payrolls.
 
For years, unions argued that right-to-work laws were bad for workers and for the states that passed them. But with the NLRB complaint, they've essentially thrown in the towel. If forced unionism is better for the economy of a state, why would the NLRB need to intervene to keep Boeing from leaving Washington? Why aren't businesses and workers moving operations to heavily unionized places likeMichiganNew YorkOhio and Pennsylvania and fleeing states like GeorgiaTennesseeSouth Carolina and Texas?
 
In reality, the stampede of businesses from forced-union states like Washington has accelerated in recent years. A 2010 study in the Cato Journal by economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University found that between 2000 and 2008 4.8 million Americans moved from forced-union states to right-to-work states. That's one person every minute of every day.
 
Right-to-work states are also getting richer over time. Prof. Vedder found a 23% higher per capita income growth rate in right-to-work states than in forced-union states, which over the period 1977-2007 amounted to a $2,760 larger increase in per-person income in those states. That's a giant differential.
 
So now the unions concede that this migration is indeed happening, but they say that it is unhealthy and undesirable because workers in right-to-work states are paid less and get worse benefits than the workers in union states. Actually, when adjusting for the cost of living in each state and the fact that right-to-work states were poorer to begin with, a 2003 study in the Journal of Labor Research byUniversity of Oklahoma economist Robert Reed found that wages rose faster in states that don't require union membership.
 
Employers that move away from forced-union states mainly do so not to scale back wages and salaries—although sometimes that happens—but to avoid having to deal with intrusive union rules, the threat of costly work stoppages, lawsuits, worker paychecks going to union fat cats, and so on.
 
Boeing officials have admitted that their decision to build the new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina was due in part to the fact that the company could not "afford a work stoppage every three years" as had happened in Washington state over that past decade. (By the way, this is the comment the NLRB complaint cites as proof of "retaliation" against union workers.)
 
Boeing is merely making a business decision based on economic reality. In fact, the company chose South Carolina for the new plant even though Washington has no income tax and South Carolina does. The two of us are often accused of arguing that income tax rates are the only factors that influence where businesses and capital relocate. Taxes certainly matter. But Boeing's move shows that taxes are not always the definitive factor in plant location decisions. In the case of Washington the advantage of its no income tax status is outweighed by its forced-union status. Lucky are the six states—Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Nevada, Florida and Wyoming—that are both right-to-work states and have no income tax.
 
While there are only six right-to-work states that also have a zero earned income tax rate and three zero earned income tax rate states that have forced- union shops, their performance differences over the past decade (2000-09) are revealing. Of the nine zero income tax rate states, those six that are also right-to-work have grown a lot faster than the three with forced-union shops: 64.9% versus 53.8% in gross state product, 59.0% versus 46.8% in personal income, 15.5% versus 10.3% in population and 8.2% versus 6.9% in payrolls.
 
The Boeing incident makes it clear that right-to-work states have a competitive advantage over forced-union states. So the question arises: Why doesn't every state adopt right-to-work laws? Four or five are trying to do so this year, and have faced ferocious opposition from the union movement.
 
But that shouldn't stop state legislators in forced-union states from doing what's in their workers' best interests. They need to decide whether they want to continue to see jobs and tax receipts exit their states, or whether they want to adopt laws that afford their workers the right to join a union or not. The only alternative is to build a regulatory Berlin Wall around their borders to keep their businesses from leaving.
 
Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates. Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for the Journal's editorial page. They are co-authors of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).

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Boeing Expects US Labor Complaint to End in Court
Reuters
John Crawley and Kyle Peterson
5/12/11

Boeing Co (BA.N) expects a court to settle a complaint alleging it punished union workers for a past strike by choosing a state with laws unfriendly to organized labor to build its 787 Dreamliner.
 

J Michael Luttig, the company's general counsel and a former appeals judge, told a Senate committee on Thursday he anticipates losing before an administrative law judge in Seattle in June and at the National Labor Relations Board after that, but prevailing at the U.S. Court of Appeals.

 

"That our rights will be vindicated one way or another before a federal court is correct," Luttig told Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at a hearing on middle class economic issues that was dominated by the NLRB complaint against Boeing.

 

Luttig said the April complaint was without merit, a view supported by Republicans on the Senate panel who said the case was an unprecedented attack on U.S. corporations.

 

Luttig said Boeing was not asking for congressional relief. But Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander said he would propose legislation prohibiting the NLRB from taking similar action against other companies.

 

Alexander said the bill would protect so-called "right-to-work" laws, found mainly in southern and western states, that make union membership a condition of employment.

 

Overseas automakers have flocked to southern states with nonunion facilities in contrast with their U.S. rivals whose factory workers are members of the United Auto Workers.

 

The NLRB complaint, in response to machinists union allegations and challenging Boeing's decision to build a 787 plant in South Carolina rather than union-heavy Washington state, could take two or more years to move through the courts, Luttig said.

 

Boeing said it selected Charleston in 2009 after failed talks with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) to continue building the Dreamliner in the Puget Sound region where it assembles the 787 and other commercial airliners.

 

The NLRB complaint alleged Boeing engaged in unfair labor practices by moving the follow-on 787 work to discourage union strikes, a protected activity.

 

The NLRB wants an order requiring Boeing to operate the second 787 line in Washington state.

 

The IAM said on Thursday Luttig's statements were not "relevant or appropriate."

 

Boeing's Dreamliner, its signature new aircraft, is about three years behind schedule because of supply chain problems. But Boeing also blames part of the delay on the 2008 strike.

The NLRB complaint "has nothing to do with right-to-work (state) laws, which are expressly permitted under our statute," Cleeland said. "Rather, it concerns a particular line of assembly work that was allegedly moved for discriminatory reasons. The effect would have been the same if the line had been moved to a nonunion facility in any state."

Boeing isn't moving its Dreamliner factory. The Chicago-based firm plans to open a second production plant near Charleston International Airport, where it intends to build three of the 787 commercial jets per month.

An administrative law judge in Seattle is scheduled to hear the case June 14. He'll decide whether to dismiss the complaint or refer it to the five-member NLRB.

The labor agency has three Obama appointees — including two former union lawyers — along with one named by Republican President George W. Bush and a vacancy.

Obama last year made recess appointments of the two former general counsels for large unions — Mark G. Pearce and Craig Becker — after Senate Republicans blocked their confirmation.

Solomon himself is serving in an acting capacity as the NLRB's top lawyer because GOP opposition would make it hard to gain the 60 votes required for his Senate confirmation.

The new Senate measure would say that the NLRB can't order a company where to operate and would guarantee an employer's right to decide where to do business. It has a free-speech clause protecting executives' ability to cite their fear of labor stoppages free of government punishment.

Almost all of the bill's 34 sponsors represent right-to-work states. The Republicans' show of force in lining up more than three-quarters of their 43 senators behind the measure signals party leaders' desire to elevate the Boeing case into an election issue next year.

Even if all 43 GOP senators vote for the legislation, it would face an uphill climb toward the 60 votes needed to overcome Democrats' procedural obstacles.

The measure's sponsors said they'd target 11 Democratic senators from right-to-work states, starting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Reid, though, was defiant in defending the NLRB and criticizing the Republican senators who are siding with Boeing.

"Republicans are threatened by unions," Reid said. "Because Republicans and the big businesses they defend so often try to take away workers' rights, workers don't often vote Republican."

Reid accused the GOP senators of political interference in a quasi-judicial proceeding.

"This kind of interference is inappropriate," he said. "It is disgraceful and dangerous. We need agencies like the NLRB to be able to operate freely and without political pressures."



Saturday
May142011

CEI Daily - NLRB Overreach, Public Transit, and the Regulation of the Day

 

NLRB Overreach

 

Yesterday, three senators introduced the Jobs Protection Act, which would prevent controversial NLRB overreaches like the recent Boeing scandal.

 

Policy Analyst Ivan Osorio comments on the bill.

 

"It should be outrageous that such a bill would be needed, yet it is, as the NLRB carrying water for Big Labor appears to be part of a pattern. The Board has also threatened to sue four states over amendments to their constitutions guaranteeing secret ballots in union organizing elections.[...] [The Boeing incident] is the latest episode in the Obama administration’s pattern of politicizing the NLRB to act as an agent for organized labor, rather than an independent arbiter. Congress may still need to do more to rein in this rogue agency."

 

 

Public Transit

 

A new report from the Brookings Institution analyzes U.S. transit systems in different cities. 

 

Policy Analyst Marc Scribner responds to the report.

 

   "Important takeaway: as metropolitan areas continue to suburbanize (including lower-income residents who previously resided in inner cities), the spoke-and-hub model of transit, which relies on monocentric urban land-use patterns, will become less useful for those who can least afford private auto trips. The high-skilled, high-income workers of central cities benefit the most from the status quo, while the increasingly lower- to middle-income suburban residents — who are more and more often finding work in the suburbs, as well — have less access to efficient transit. [...]

    I don’t believe the Brookings authors go far enough in their conclusions or articulate the inconvenient truth that many Americans have rejected transit outright, but it is definitely worth reading."

 

 

 

Regulation of the Day

 

In the latest "Regulation of the Day," Fellow in Regulatory Studies Ryan Young talks about efforts in Texas to criminalize lying about the weight of a fish you've caught.

 

Read the "Regulation of the Day" here.

 



Friday
May132011

Dem Gov. Beebe: NLRB ruling could be 'detrimental'  

Beebe: NLRB ruling could be 'detrimental'
The City Wire
5/11/2011

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday (May 11) that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling against Boeing could be “detrimental” to Arkansas’ economic development efforts.

In 2008 and 2009, Boeing searched for potential new manufacturing locations at which to build the company’s new 787 Dreamliner. The new plane uses advanced composite materials and new engines to build a large commercial plane significantly more fuel efficient than other planes in the industry.

But union leaders objected when Boeing decided to build a $1 billion plant — the first large airplane manufacturing plant built at a new location in about 40 years — near Charleston, S.C.

UNION OBJECTION
Officials with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751 filed in March 2010 a complaint with the NLRB. They alleged that Boeing made the decision to locate in South Carolina because, as a right-to-work state, it is difficult for workers to unionize. Further, they alleged that the move was a signal by Boeing to its union workforce in Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., that union strikes and other disruptions could push more production to other right-to-work states.

On April 20, NLRB Regional Director Richard Ahearn agreed with the union allegations, saying the Boeing decision to locate a plant in South Carolina was made to “discourage” union workers from engaging in protected union activities. Evidence cited in the NLRB ruling included several news reports in which Boeing officials said part of the decision was based on fear of future union strikes disrupting Dreamliner production.

“As part of the remedy for the unfair labor practices alleged above in paragraphs 7 and 8, the Acting General Counsel seeks an Order requiring Respondent to have the Unit operate its second line of 787 Dreamliner aircraft assembly production in the State of Washington, utilizing supply lines maintained by the Unit in the Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, area facilities,” Ahearn wrote in the ruling.

A hearing on the ruling is set for June 14 in Seattle.

ARKANSAS IMPACT?
Arkansas, also a right-to-work state, was active in attempting to recruit Boeing’s Dreamliner plant. State and chamber officials in Arkansas often use the right-to-work issue as a selling point.

“It could be detrimental to Arkansas’ economic development efforts if that is carried to some extreme conclusion,” Beebe said Wednesday in a “Talk Politics” interview with Roby Brock. (Link here for more on the interview.)

Beebe said he is not fully versed on the “legal background” cited by NLRB in the ruling, but said it “undoubtedly is raising questions about a company’s ability to move plants to different parts of the company for competitive reasons.”

“It bears watching by Arkansas because it could have an effect on Arkansas,” he added.

Cheryl Garner, vice president of economic development with the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the ruling could take away one of the state’s selling points when recruiting manufacturers and other large employers.

“We would be losing one of the many advantages that this area has, but it is not a deal killer,” Garner said. “We do market ourselves as a right-to-work state and it is an advantage, certainly. ... But I think there are many factors that go into moving a location, in addition to that.”

NATIONAL OPPOSITION
The NLRB ruling is opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, the HR Policy Association and other national business groups.

“It is disturbing that at a time when companies doing business in the U.S. are engaged in intensive competition on a global scale, a company would be sanctioned for engaging in open and honest discussions with its union about economic realities,” Dan Yager, chief policy officer & general counsel for the HR Policy Association, said in a statement released by the U.S. Chamber. “If anything, the NLRB should seek to ensure that employers and unions are able to speak freely with each other, consistent with their rights under Section 8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act. Any failure by the Board to protect those rights can only further harm the larger economic interests of all Americans.”

Jim McNerney, chairman, president and CEO of Boeing, wrote in a May 11 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, that the NLRB ruling fails to recognize that the company’s union contracts allow Boeing to “locate new work at our discretion.” He also noted that no union jobs have been lost in existing plants as a result of the South Carolina expansion.


“In fact, we've since added more than 2,000 union jobs there (Everett, Wash.), and the hiring continues,” McNerney noted.

The Boeing chief also said the NLRB action could backfire on unions if business owners decide to not locate plants in pro-union states for fear of not then being allowed to expand to right-to-work states.

“U.S. tax and regulatory policies already make it more attractive for many companies to build new manufacturing capacity overseas. That's something the administration has said it wants to change and is taking steps to address. It appears that message hasn't made it to the front offices of the NLRB,” McNerney concluded.

LABOR FOCUS
Beebe, in the “Talk Politics” interview, also said assumptions about unions can “go both ways.”

He said when Cooper Tire announced it would close two of its four manufacturing plants, the initial fear in Arkansas was the unionized Cooper Tire plant in Texarkana would be lost. At the time, two of the Cooper Tire plants were unionized. But Beebe reminded that the Texarkana plant remained open because of the union’s willingness to work with management. And, according to Beebe, “the trump card” was the quality of the workforce and quality of production at Texarkana.

“It doesn’t always follow that if you’re non-union you are going to get the business,” Beebe said.

But Garner said global competition to locate operations has created more focus on labor costs — a trend she predicts will continue.

“As the competition gets tighter and tighter globally, companies will continue to look for that low-cost labor. That’s a trend that will not go away,” she said.

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Palin, Gingrich, Reid weigh in on Boeing labor complaint
The Herald
Michelle Dunlop
5/11/2011
The political heavyweights are adding their two cents to the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against the Boeing Co.

President Barack Obama's appointees on the labor board “have their boots on The Boeing Co.'s neck,” writes Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, in this piece for Fox News.

The labor board has alleged that Boeing picked South Carolina as the site for its second 787 line in order to get back at its Machinists in Washington state for past strikes. The labor board's general counsel has said Boeing's move is illegal and wants the company to put a second line in Washington instead. A hearing on the complaint is set for June 14 in Seattle.

Palin isn't the only Republican lashing out at Obama and the labor board. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich calls the complaint a “job killing effort” in this piece.

“It is clear that President Obama is packing the NLRB board with left wing ideologues as a payoff to his union boss allies, so that the fix is in with regard to this case and others like it,” Gingrich writes.

For the Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is standing up for the labor board and its complaint:
“Let's be honest: Republicans are threatened by unions,” Reid said. “They're threatened because when a large, organized group is so concerned with workers' rights, the members of that group vote in large numbers. And because Republicans and the big businesses they defend so often try to take away workers' rights, workers don't often vote Republican.”



Thursday
May122011

WFI - NLRB/Boeing Issue Stays in the News 

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Nikki Haley wants ‘Battle for Boeing’ to be 2012 issue

Washington Post - The Fix

For weeks, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has been working to bring more attention to a local fight between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board.

Could it be the next Wisconsin — a showdown between a prominent (and newly elected) Republican governor and national labor groups? Haley seems to hope so.

At a press conference packed with prominent Republicans at the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, Haley argued that the future of the country is at stake. “This is an issue that may have started in South Carolina, but we want to make sure it never touches another state,” she said. “This an unbelievable attack on not just right-to-work states but every state that’s attempting to put their people to work.”

.At issue is a complaint the NRLB filed against Boeing, claiming the airplane manufacturer decided to build a plant in South Carolina in retaliation for a strike in Washington state. Labor officials say this is merely an attempt to punish attempts at illegal retaliation against striking workers. Republicans say the complaint amounts to an effort to place strictures on companies who want to relocate projects away from unionized plants.

Haley isn’t the only prominent Republican politician who has taken up this fight. “The administration’s pandering to unions has gotten so far out of proportion its difficult to accept,”said Sen. Jim DeMint (R). And the press conference was packed with other well-known Republicans. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) all spoke at today’s press conference.

Given the array of Republicans seeking to elevate the NRLB/Boeing fight, the relative silence of 2012 GOP contenders is notable.

 So far the only top-tier candidate to weigh-in is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has weighed in, with an op-ed in National Review. Pawlenty also got huge applause for standing with Haley on the issue in last week’s debate.

South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly said that the NLRB fight will be “very important” in the state’s 2012 GOP presidential primary.

Democrats dismissed Haley’s trip to Washington as nothing more than a bit of political grandstanding for a politician with national ambitions.

“Going to Washington to complain about the NLRB is a useless gesture,” said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian . “She’s showcasing herself inside the Beltway for a possible role in the 2012 election.”

Regardless of her motivations, Haley is a coveted endorser in the 2012 primary fight given her national prominence and the state’s critical early role in the nomination fight.

So far, she’s been coy about her preferred candidate, but it’s clear that she wants someone who will stand behind her on specific issues.

And that starts with the NRLB fight. “Tim Pawlenty did a great job stepping up,” Haley said. “I’d like to see every candidate step up [ and say] what they would do about it.”

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Boeing Is Pro-Growth, Not Anti-Union

WSJ
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney

Deep into the recent recession, Boeing decided to invest more than $1 billion in a new factory in South Carolina. Surging global demand for our innovative, new 787 Dreamliner exceeded what we could build on one production line and we needed to open another.

This was good news for Boeing and for the economy. The new jetliner assembly plant would be the first one built in the U.S. in 40 years. It would create new American jobs at a time when most employers are hunkered down. It would expand the domestic footprint of the nation's leading exporter and make it more competitive against emerging plane makers from China, Russia and elsewhere. And it would bring hope to a state burdened by double-digit unemployment—with the construction phase alone estimated to create more than 9,000 total jobs.

Eighteen months later, a North Charleston swamp has been transformed into a state-of-the-art, green-energy powered, 1.2 million square-foot airplane assembly plant. One thousand new workers are hired and being trained to start building planes in July.

It is an American industrial success story by every measure. With 9% unemployment nationwide, we need more of them—and soon.

Yet the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) believes it was a mistake and that our actions were unlawful. It claims we improperly transferred existing work, and that our decision reflected "animus" and constituted "retaliation" against union-represented employees in Washington state. Its remedy: Reverse course, Boeing, and build the assembly line where we tell you to build it. 

The NLRB is wrong and has far overreached its authority. Its action is a fundamental assault on the capitalist principles that have sustained America's competitiveness since it became the world's largest economy nearly 140 years ago. We've made a rational, legal business decision about the allocation of our capital and the placement of new work within the U.S. We're confident the federal courts will reject the claim, but only after a significant and unnecessary expense to taxpayers.

More worrisome, though, are the potential implications of such brazen regulatory activism on the U.S. manufacturing base and long-term job creation. The NLRB's overreach could accelerate the overseas flight of good, middle-class American jobs.

Contrary to the NLRB's claim, our decision to expand in South Carolina resulted from an objective analysis of the same factors we use in every site selection. We considered locations in several states but narrowed the choice to either North Charleston (where sections of the 787 are built already) or Everett, Wash., which won the initial 787 assembly line in 2003.

Our union contracts expressly permit us to locate new work at our discretion. However, we viewed Everett as an attractive option and engaged voluntarily in talks with union officials to see if we could make the business case work. Among the considerations we sought were a long-term "no-strike clause" that would ensure production stability for our customers, and a wage and benefit growth trajectory that would help in our cost battle against Airbus and other state-sponsored competitors.

Despite months of effort, no agreement was reached. Union leaders couldn't meet expectations on our key issues, and we couldn't accept their demands that we remain neutral in all union-organizing campaigns and essentially guarantee to build every future Boeing airplane in the Puget Sound area. In October 2009, we made the Charleston selection.

Important to our case is the basic fact that no existing work is being transferred to South Carolina, and not a single union member in Washington has been adversely affected by this decision. In fact, we've since added more than 2,000 union jobs there, and the hiring continues. The 787 production line in Everett has a planned capacity of seven airplanes per month. The line in Charleston will build three additional airplanes to reach our 10-per-month capacity plan. Production of the new U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tanker will sustain and grow union jobs in Everett, too.

Before and after the selection, we spoke openly to employees and investors about our competitive realities and the business considerations of the decision. The NLRB now is selectively quoting and mischaracterizing those comments in an attempt to bolster its case. This is a distressing signal from one arm of the government when others are pushing for greater openness and transparency in corporate decision making.

It is no secret that over the years Boeing and union leaders have struggled to find the right way to work together. I don't blame that all on the union, or all on the company. Both sides are working to improve that dynamic, which is also a top concern for customers. Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson put it this way following the 2008 machinists' strike that shut down assembly for eight weeks: "If union leaders and management can't get their act together to avoid strikes, we're not going to come back here again. We're already thinking, 'Would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?' It's that serious."

Despite the ups-and-downs, we hold no animus toward union members, and we have never sought to threaten or punish them for exercising their rights, as the NLRB claims. To the contrary, union members are part of our company's fabric and key to our success. About 40% of our 155,000 U.S. employees are represented by unions—a ratio unchanged since 2003.

Nor are we making a mass exodus to right-to-work states that forbid compulsory union membership. We have a sizable presence in 34 states; half are unionized and half are right-to-work. We make decisions on work placement based on business principles—not out of emotion or spite. For example, last year we added new manufacturing facilities in Illinois and Montana. One work force is union-represented, the other is not. Both decisions made business sense.

The world the NLRB wants to create with its complaint would effectively prevent all companies from placing new plants in right-to-work states if they have existing plants in unionized states. But as an unintended consequence, forward-thinking CEOs also would be reluctant to place new plants in unionized states—lest they be forever restricted from placing future plants elsewhere across the country.

U.S. tax and regulatory policies already make it more attractive for many companies to build new manufacturing capacity overseas. That's something the administration has said it wants to change and is taking steps to address. It appears that message hasn't made it to the front offices of the NLRB.

Mr. McNerney is chairman, president and CEO of the Boeing Co.


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Senator Orrin Hatch
May 10, 2011
National Review Online
 
On April 20, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued one of the most far-reaching and outrageous complaints ever issued by the Board against a private business.  This complaint against The Boeing Company is easily one of the most outlandish and regrettable complaints the NLRB has ever issued and should outrage every American — Republican or Democrat.  
 
So, what happened?
 
In October 2009, Boeing, which operates a huge manufacturing plant in Puget SoundWashington, announced that it would build a new production line for its 787 Dreamliner fleet in South Carolina, a decision that promised billions of dollars in investment and hundreds of new jobs for that state. Best of all, there was no coinciding announcement of layoffs at the Puget Sound facility. In fact, not a single job was lost in the State of Washington as a result of Boeing’s decision. On the contrary, Boeing has added an additional 2,000 jobs inPuget Sound since that time.
 
Added jobs in Washington plus added jobs in South Carolina sounds like a win-win for American workers and America’s economy, particularly at a time when so many companies are opting to do business overseas.
 
But, here’s the rub. Boeing’s plant in Puget Sound was staffed entirely by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, and South Carolina is a right-to-work state. Boeing was not required under its collective bargaining agreement to perform this work in Washington. Even so, the union cried foul.
 
Seventeen months and a billion-dollar investment by Boeing later, the NLRB filed its complaint, which contains no substantive evidence of anti-union animus on the part of Boeing or of an adverse impact on the unionized workers in Washington — both of which are required to demonstrate the type of violation alleged in this case.
 
Sadly, the Board’s borderline frivolous interpretation of the law is not the most appalling part. In addition to wrongfully asserting that Boeing unlawfully transferred bargaining unit work to South Carolina, the NLRB is seeking an order stipulating that this new work cannot be performed in South Carolina and must be moved to Washington. In short, they’ve asserted the right to make Boeing’s business decisions for them.
 
The chilling effect of this complaint will be unmistakable. To borrow from Frank Sinatra, if they can do it there, they can do it anywhere. If the NLRB can do this to South Carolina, disrupting business and killing jobs, it can do it anywhere, including Utah or any other right-to-work state. This is likely the very message the Board is trying to send with the Boeing complaint.
 
This is nothing short of a gift-wrapped present to Big Labor, which is not surprising. To date, the president and congressional Democrats have been unable to enact the most significant parts of their pro-union agenda — such as the Employee Free Choice Act — through the legislative process. So, instead, they have opted to let unelected bureaucrats do their dirty work for them.
 
In this instance, the government-official-turned-union-foot-soldier was the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon. But this is certainly not the first time an agency under the Obama administration has sought to circumvent Congress to help out the unions. Last year, for example, the National Mediation Board (NMB), which regulates labor relations in the transportation sector, overturned 75 years of policy in an attempt to grease the rails in union elections and make unionization the default position of the airline industry.
 
More than just matters of ideology, these types of government actions are debilitating to our economy at a time when we are struggling to recover from one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.  While these decisions may appease certain political constituencies, they also cost jobs at a time when we are struggling to reduce unemployment.
 
In recent months, President Obama has embarked on the proverbial “move to the middle” in preparation for the 2012 election campaign. In doing so, the president has stated that he wants to improve our nation’s business climate. He has said, in so many words, thatAmerica should be the “best place on earth to do business.” Sadly, I don’t think many in his administration have gotten the memo. Until his administration stops getting in the way of growth and job creation and starts acting on behalf of all American workers — and not just those represented by unions — any pro-growth and pro-business rhetoric on the part of the president will be utterly meaningless.



Thursday
May122011

WaPost: The NLRB hands the Republicans a potent issue

The NLRB hands the Republicans a potent issueWashington PostJennifer RubinMay 11, 2011http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/the-nlrb-hand-the-republicans-a-potent-issue/2011/03/29/AF2hnSqG_blog.html The Fix reports:

For weeks, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has been working to bring more attention to a local fight between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board. . . . . At issue is a complaint the NLRB filed against Boeing, claiming the airplane manufacturer decided to build a plant in South Carolina in retaliation for a strike in Washington state. Labor officials say this is merely an attempt to punish attempts at illegal retaliation against striking workers. Republicans say the complaint amounts to an effort to place strictures on companies who want to relocate projects away from unionized plants.

 Moreover, it’s an issue that has already made its way into the presidential primary: 

[Tim] Pawlenty also got huge applause for standing with Haley on the issue in last week’s debate. South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly said that the NLRB fight will be “very important” in the state’s 2012 GOP presidential primary. . . . Regardless of her motivations, Haley is a coveted endorser in the 2012 primary fight given her national prominence and the state’s critical early role in the nomination fight. So far, she’s been coy about her preferred candidate, but it’s clear that she wants someone who will stand behind her on specific issues. And that starts with the NRLB fight. “Tim Pawlenty did a great job stepping up,” Haley said. “I’d like to see every candidate step up [and say] what they would do about it.”

 So how outrageous is the NLRB’s decision? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Boeing’s president and chief executive Jim McNerney adds some important details: 

Contrary to the NLRB’s claim, our decision to expand in South Carolina resulted from an objective analysis of the same factors we use in every site selection. We considered locations in several states but narrowed the choice to either North Charleston (where sections of the 787 are built already) or Everett, Wash., which won the initial 787 assembly line in 2003. Our union contracts expressly permit us to locate new work at our discretion. However, we viewed Everett as an attractive option and engaged voluntarily in talks with union officials to see if we could make the business case work. . . . Despite months of effort, no agreement was reached. Union leaders couldn’t meet expectations on our key issues, and we couldn’t accept their demands that we remain neutral in all union-organizing campaigns and essentially guarantee to build every future Boeing airplane in the Puget Sound area. In October 2009, we made the Charleston selection. Important to our case is the basic fact that no existing work is being transferred to South Carolina, and not a single union member in Washington has been adversely affected by this decision. In fact, we’ve since added more than 2,000 union jobs there, and the hiring continues. The 787 production line in Everett has a planned capacity of seven airplanes per month. The line in Charleston will build three additional airplanes to reach our 10-per-month capacity plan. Production of the new U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tanker will sustain and grow union jobs in Everett, too.

 If Boeing is going anti-union it’s doing a poor job of it: “We have a sizable presence in 34 states; half are unionized and half are right-to-work. We make decisions on work placement based on business principles — not out of emotion or spite. For example, last year we added new manufacturing facilities in Illinois and Montana. One work force is union-represented, the other is not. Both decisions made business sense.” Can the NLRB really prevent a company from exercising its right under its own collective bargaining agreement to set up a plant in a right-to-work state? In 20 years of practicing labor law that sure wasn’t my understanding of how the federal labor law works. Over at the Heritage Foundation, Hans A. von Spakovsky and James Sherk provide a lawyerly analysis of the case. They cite relevant precedent: 

In the 1969 Supreme Court case, National Labor Relations Board v. Gissel Packing Co., an employer asserted that he had the freedom of speech to make statements to employees that unionization would lead to a strike resulting in a plant shutdown. The Supreme Court said that an employer is permitted to “make a prediction as to the precise effects he believes unionization will have on his company” as long as these predictions are “demonstrably probable.” Federal law is violated, as was the case in Gissel, only when an employer (during a union recognition election) makes a statement that is no “longer a reasonable prediction based on available facts” but rather a threat of retaliatory action if the employees vote to join a union. In the instant complaint, the NLRB has no such evidence of any threats of retaliatory action, only evidence of Boeing talking about the stark economic consequences the company faces because of the constant strikes in Washington — comments that are well within the protected First Amendment free speech rights of employers.

 Then there is this: 

First National Maintenance Corp. v. NLRB, in which the Supreme Court dismissed a similar unfair labor charge against a company for failing to bargain with the union over the closure of a nursing home for economic reasons. In that case, the Court found that Congress “limited the mandate or duty to bargain to matters of ‘wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.’ ” The Court stated that “Congress had no expectation that the elected union representative would become an equal partner in the running of the business enterprise.” Management must be able to make decisions “essential for the running of a profitable business” and “to reach decisions without fear of later evaluations labeling its conduct an unfair labor practice.”

 The authors conclude that the NLRB’s position, if sustained, would “significantly alter that statutory scheme. It would effectively mean that existing companies with any unionized workforce could not expand in right-to-work states, at least not without serious litigation.” The complaint will be heard by an administrative law judge and then probably by the NLRB, heavily stacked in labor’s favor at this point. If needed, Boeing will appeal to the federal appeals court. It’s hard to imagine it will be sustained. (Notice how quiet the administration has been on this one.) And frankly, this is one case the Democrats better hope they lose, that is if they want to deprive Republicans of a boffo campaign issue and keep in play in 2012 some important right-to-work states.