tmccarthy0's picture

    Boeing VS National Labor Relations Board

    The  National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken action against Boeing's production move to South Carolina. Republicans are in meltdown mode... "Tyranny and Socialism", and the best one so far, "enemies list of red states", and it is being shouted from every crazy corner of the web, from the Washington Times, to Fox News to Breitbart and NewsMax, they are all enraged by the action taken by the NLRB. Oh even Sarah Palin weighed in on the newest evidence that America is being subverted. She rambled pathetically from her facebook page;

    “Does the President realize the real concern here is not that businesses will choose to locate in one state over another? It’s that businesses will choose to locate in other countries because thanks to the Obama administration’s job killing policies and over-reaching regulatory boards the business climate in the United States is growing toxic.”

    April 20th, the NLRB charged Boeing with retaliating illegally against its largest union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 751 when it decided in 2009 to put a second 787 Dreamliner assembly line in a nonunion plant in South Carolina. The NLRB wants Boeing to have the second plant here in Washington State, where we have the skilled workers to build those planes.

    Why did they retaliate, that is the primary question. According to a story in the Seattle Times, Boeing bought the plant in order to discourage future strikes by Boeing Machinsts, who stuck in 2008 over guaranteed benefits for future employees.  The most interesting part of the story in the times is this:

    Before Boeing announced where it would build the second 787 line, the company and the union held secret talks over a potential 10-year no-strike agreement.

    And yet they've decided to build some of those planes in South Carolina regardless of those talks.

    Republicans of course have their panties in a bunch, angry that the NLRB is acting in such a socialist, fascist, communist way! The Washington Post's "Right Turn" insists that this is a terrible development for the President.  Cause you know, people hate unions. I think Jennifer Rubin doesn't pay attention to what is going on around her, but hey that could be just me.

    I think this ruling and the fight that will be waged by the right might have a big impact on future of Unions. I know there will be a hearing with a judge. But I don't know how this works from the inside. Is the NLRB routinely ruled against for in favor? I don't know, but I have a feeling this is going to be a very big deal, it probably helps the NLRB that the administrative law judge hearing the case is a Seattle judge and not one in South Carolina. I am curious as to how long this will take and what the odds are that Boeing will have to remove its operations from SC and move them back here.

    This particular issue is a big issue here at home. Boeing is a very large part of the economy in Washington State. Not as large as it was in the early 70's when Seattle almost became a ghost town. The economy was bad the, really, really bad.

    Most people recognize this picture. Back then between 1967 and 1971 Boeing laid off 62,000 people in the Seattle area. The economy here was crushed, we were the Detroit of America back then. We really almost became a ghost town. Boeing doesn't affect our economy like that anymore, but they remain a very large part of our economy, I think the calculation is 3-4 jobs in the community are supported by 1 Boeing job. So we rely on Boeing as much as they've relied on us over the years, because even though Boeing helped build Seattle, unions helped build a strong Boeing and the company should recognize this and act accordingly.

    The NLRB has made a strong stance with this case, and it will be interesting to watch what happens.


    Thanks for writing about this TMC.  I had written something about this a week or so ago and I agree with you that it's a really positive step taken by NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon, who is a recess appointment by the president.  This is one of several decisions Solomon has made that will ultimately prevent him from being confirmed by the Senate.

    Just to make things clear, the charge is not based on Boeing's decision to relocate to a non-union plant, but rather it is based on the General Counsel's allegation that Boeing made its decision to relocate in order to escape the possibility that the Union would strike if Boeing and the Union could not agree to a future contract.  Solomon's position is that Boeing's motivation was because it is designed to thwart the right of its employees to engage in what is called protected, oncerted conduct (i.e. employees have the right under the federal law to strike).

    Procedurally, as you write, the complaint will be heard by an administrative law judge in June.  The ALJ will make a recommended decision and the losing party will likely to appeal to the NLRB in Washington.  The NLRB now has an Obama-appointed majority, and I would think that it is more likely than not that they will side with Solomon.

    Here's one kicker.  The NLRB's decision can either be appealed to the DC Circuit or to the 9th Circuit, which is where the unfair labor practice charge arose (in Washington State).  The DC Circuit has generally been viewed as being less supportive of unions than the more liberal 9th Circuit.  So my hunch is that it will go to the DC Circuit, and that that decision can take months and months as well.

    In the interim, if Boeing seeks to relocate, the Board could seek an injunction to maintain the status quo until a decision is rendered, and if Boeing ignores an unfavorable Board decision, the General Counsel could seek to enforce the decision in the court of appeals.

    The Republican senators who are jumping up and down are being totally disingenuous.  The NLRB under Bush made the Reagan and Bush I Boards look like socialists.  The pendulum is moving the other way now, and as a matter of law I think Solomon's complaint is fully consistent with the intent of the statute. 

    Lots of luck to Seattle.  


    Thank you Bruce, I was hoping you would weigh in. Your info helps fill in the many questions I have about what could happen in the future. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    This sorta jumped out at me:

    Boeing Is Pro-Growth, Not Anti-Union

    Hah, of course they are pro-growth, it's a positive slant on union busting!

    Thanks for the link Donal.  I think Boeing's CEO is casting the case differently than what is alleged in the complaint.  Boeing has the absolute right to relocate work based upon labor costs or any other lawful factor.  The only limitation is that it would have to bargain with the union about the decision itself if the relocation were motivated by labor costs, or in the alternative just about the effects of the decision on the existing labor force if it were motivated by other factors (such as techological issues, etc.).  But the complaint alleges that Boeing is moving to avoid the potential consequences of having a unionized workforce, i.e. it is giving the Washington workers a choice to agree to a long-term no-strike clause or else.  And the NLRB is saying that that type of a threat, i.e. relinquish your federal right to strike or we're leaving, is unlawful.  

    Another thing that pops out at me is the CEO's assertion that no existing work is leaving Washington.  But it is and has been absolutely lawful for a union to bargain about the scope of work that the workers they represent have the right to perform, including new work.  So I think he's arguing on the one hand that the Board is changing policy and urging, on the other hand, that existing policy be changed.

    Here's a link to the NLRB's fact sheet on the Boeing complaint.


    An example of how we're just now beginning to get some of the benefits of having a democrat in the White House. .

    As Bruce described a few weeks ago(he should correct where I get this wrong )there were opening on the Board which theoretically should have allowed  Obama  to appoint enough new members to end the long period under which it was controlled not just by Republican appointees but by Republican appointees some of whom  were virulently anti union. But his appointees were blocked by Republican senators.So it's taken two full years before Obama's view on Labor Relations are finally reflected in more union friendly decisions by the Board.

    I'm sure there are other cases scattered through the Government, If I can find a reliable analysis I'll provide a link. .

    Now that the next election is appoaching the Republicans  are showing an interest in reducing the number of positions which require Senate approval. So if Obama loses in Nov 2012, perhaps as a by product of the ill will resulting from  primary opposition or because of progressives staying home,  the incoming Republican president will be able to hit the ground running. 

    But we can take satisfaction out of having taught the democratic party a lesson . And probably come 2020 we'll get a  candidate we're satisfied with. Pity the  Republicans won't indulge themselves unseating  the president  they'll elect in 2012 , so it will cost us 8 years of anti union decisions by the NLRB, cancellation of Obamacare, Medicaid made optional for the States who will cancel it , Medicare replaced by vouchers of declining value, the Income Tax replaced by a national sales and an occupation of Iran.( the part we're able to control). 

    And of course our chosen  Democratic 2020 candidate  will be handicapped by  Cory Booker's run as the candidate of the People's Party largely composed of blacks  insulted by the Proressive's treatment  Obama. Oh well, we gotta get a winner some day. 


    You just don't get it, Flavius.  Obama = George W. Bush, and the two parties are exactly the same.  EXACTLY THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe I'm missing something. Tmmccarthy0  in this post and bslev in some earlier ones  describe an important   way in which Obama and the Democrats are completely different from George W. Bush and the Republicans.

    If you want to maintain that this is an exception we could  discuss that. And Lord knows when you claim I don't get it, join the crowd..

    But just ignoring the information  they presented seems odd.  Maybe you simply forgot the original post because you  were so annoyed by my comment- in which case, as I say, join the crowd.

    Brew is just joking with you, he isn't annoyed with you in the slightest, he is making fun of those who say Obama is exactly the same as GWBush, even though there is much evidence to the contrary.

    It is just good old fashioned snark. Laughing

    Coulda fooled me. In fact he did.

    It happens, and you never know around here!!!! Hah!

    Have a great weekend Flavius.

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