Business groups launch ad war against labor board

Two of Washington’s most prominent business groups are escalating their attacks on the National Labor Relations Board.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have sponsored radio ads that urge lawmakers to support legislation that would prohibit the labor board from ordering a company to relocate its employment. 

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The ads will run in 16 congressional districts, held by mostly Democratic House members, in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. Those running for the Senate, like Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), will have ads run in their districts. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), who sometimes takes union-friendly positions, is the lone Republican member who will have ads aired back home.

The radio ad campaign will cost more than $1 million, and includes a Web video and a direct-mail component. The campaign will run until the House votes on the legislation, which is expected sometime in the near future. 

“Manufacturers from across the country tell me repeatedly how the NLRB’s actions overwhelmingly will hurt their ability to create jobs. We’re also very concerned about the NLRB’s decisions and proposed regulations upsetting the positive and productive relationships between employers and employees,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM, in a statement.

“It is clear that the NLRB has strayed from its role as an impartial arbiter to instead become just an extension of labor unions,” said Dan Danner, NFIB’s president and CEO.

The legislation, called the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act, is in reaction to the NLRB’s April 20 complaint against Boeing for allegedly retaliating against union workers.

After its executives expressed worry that Boeing’s unionized operations in the state of Washington would slow down the production of its new Dreamliner jet with work stoppages, the company started a production line for the jet to South Carolina, a right-to-work state that generally prohibits union membership. The labor board found that to be retaliation against its union workers and issued its complaint. 

That decision has come under heavy criticism from business groups as well as Republican lawmakers, who say the NLRB complaint will discourage companies from investing in the United States. Unions and Democrats have defended the board, saying critics should stay out of what is a law enforcement action.

Other moves by the labor board have also drawn opposition. The NLRB has proposed a new regulation that will change how union elections function and will speed up the process for workers to organize. 

NAM and others have lobbied against that new rule, and House Republicans are working on legislation to block the proposal.

—This article was corrected to reflect that Boeing started a production line in South Carolina.