Obama administration's labor agency declares war on job creators

Originally, Boeing looked at building the factory in Pugent Sound, Washington. To start the process, they initiated negotiations with International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). By the time negotiations fell through in October of 2009, union bosses had demanded a seat on Boeing’s board and a promise that all planes would forever be built in Washington State. In effect, the union would only allow Boeing to create new jobs if they were granted a stranglehold on the company itself.

When Boeing opted to build in South Carolina, Big Labor once again put its greed above the needs of American workers and their old friends at the NLRB were more than happy to assist by making sure the facility never gets off the ground. South Carolina – a right-to-work state meaning employees have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union – won the new factory, two billion dollars in investments and over 1,000 jobs. The new factory is very significant in a state facing nearly double digit unemployment.

And what about the workers in Puget Sound? They maintained their jobs – some of the highest paying in the country for aerospace workers – and have even grown their ranks. Boeing isn’t moving a factory, they’ve built a new one with a separate workforce in a new state to address a backlog in orders.

Why in the world would an agency that’s charged with addressing disputes between employers and employees in the private sector concern itself with a company building a supplemental facility anywhere in the country? Because, the NLRB believes Boeing acted out “anti-union animus” in building the facility and creating jobs in a right-to-work state. The government agency decided nearly two years after the fact that Boeing’s actions were retaliation for the IAM’s repeated shut downs of commercial aircraft production, including a strike lasting almost 60 days costing billions. 

A key in the argument is that the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon referred to Boeing’s decision as a “transfer of work” even though there was no work taken away from the labor already being conducted in Washington. To make matters worse, the cases cited by Solomon do not support the complaint. The first two are election cases and the impact of employer statements on an upcoming election. Here, the union has long been on the scene representing Boeing’s manufacturing workforce in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

What is very clear is that the NLRB is now acting as an accomplice in Big Labor’s campaign against corporate America. This is an affront to every American seeking to create jobs and directly contradicts the economic messaging coming from the White House on jobs.

And responsibility for the actions of Solomon and his associate, former American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) attorney Craig Becker, lies squarely on the shoulders of the individual who nominated them, President Barack Obama.

Obama has abused the system making appointments so radical that, in Becker’s case, both Republicans and Democrats rejected his nomination in the U.S. Senate.

Reaction to the NLRB’s decision concerning Boeing has also been rejected by members of both parties. For instance, the Democratic mayor of Charleston Joseph P. Riley stated, “This is a shameful act. It is outrageous and extraordinarily wasteful ... Huge sums of money will be spent on this litigation and Boeing will prevail, without any question.”

We agree. The actions of the NLRB are so beyond the pale and offensive, one can only hope that the American people become aware, take note and hold accountable those responsible for allowing it to take place.

Katie Gage is executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).