Democrat calls for end to NLRB probe

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Wednesday that Congress should back off its investigation of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In a letter Wednesday to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cummings said new documents released by the labor board show the agency came under undue pressure from Boeing and lawmakers before it filed its controversial complaint against the aerospace giant this year. 

Consequently, the NLRB’s “ongoing legal proceeding should be allowed to take its full course without any further interference from members of Congress,” according to Cummings, the committee’s ranking member.

“These new documents, which the committee has now obtained, raise troubling new questions about whether Boeing inappropriately sought to use its political influence in Congress to prevent the NLRB from filing its enforcement action against the company,” Cummings wrote.

The documents in question are notes taken by Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel, and other agency lawyers describing phone calls from Boeing’s attorneys and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) before the NLRB issued its complaint against the company on April 20. Graham told Solomon he would go after the agency “full guns a-blazing” if the NLRB issued its complaint against Boeing for allegedly retaliating against union workers, according to Solomon’s notes.

Cummings contends that the committee he sits on has been used as part of Boeing’s effort to discredit the NLRB.

“Republican leadership in both the House and Senate have in fact fulfilled this threat to go ‘full guns a-blazing’ against the NLRB. In September, Republican leadership in the House passed legislation to retroactively strip the NLRB of its authority to address unlawful transfers and outsourcing, which is the remedy sought in the Boeing case,” Cummings wrote.

A spokeswoman for Issa dismissed Cummings’ request.

“Boeing’s very public opposition to NLRB’s job killing efforts is well-known and Ranking Member Cummings’ resistance to conducting needed and legitimate oversight has become cliché,” said Becca Watkins, the Issa spokeswoman.

The labor board filed its complaint against Boeing after it started a production line for its new 787 Dreamliner jet in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, after company executives said they worried about work stoppages delaying production at their unionized operations in the state of Washington. The NLRB alleged that was Boeing was illegally punishing its union workers. 

Republican lawmakers have been outraged by the NLRB’s Boeing complaint. Several have threatened the labor board’s funding, promised to block nominations to the board and subpoenaed its documents. Issa have been aggressively investigating the NLRB from his committee post.