Saturday, June 18, 2011

Boeing and the NLRB

Andrew Sammick is an intelligent and respected economist. Yet he wrote in his blog that the Boing machinist union
filed a complaint in April alleging that Boeing decided to locate a new assembly line to build 787 Dreamliner jets in South Carolina because it was trying to punish union workers in Washington state for their past strikes. Boeing says the charge is groundless and has said it will fight the case to the Supreme Court.
I think the claim that failing to expand in a given area because it is cheaper to expand in another area is a violation of any law that is worth being upheld is going to be a tough one to make. It is further complicated, in this particular case, by the fact that there is no evidence that any specific workers have lost jobs in Washington, Boeing's home and the location of the existing assembly lines for the 787.
Ellin Dannin explains what's really going on.
The Boeing case began when the Machinists Union in the State of Washington filed a charge with the NLRB alleging that Boeing had retaliated against its Washington employees for past strikes by moving work to South Carolina. The right to strike is protected by law, and an employer’s retaliating against employees for exercising their legal rights violates the NLRA, the law the NLRB enforces.

After the charge was filed, the NLRB’s regional office in Washington investigated the case. That investigation involved taking sworn affidavits from witnesses and collecting other relevant evidence. Boeing had the right to present its evidence during the investigation. The evidence included public statements by Boeing officials – and reported in the Seattle Post Intelligencer Aerospace News and the Seattle Times – that they were angry that Boeing employees in Washington had gone on strike in the past. Boeing officials also said that they would, therefore, move work that was originally going to be done in Washington to a plant in South Carolina. This evidence, if credited by the judge at trial, supports a finding that Boeing violated § 8(a)(1) and (3) of the NLRA.
There is nothing in the case about one state being a right to work state or not.
That red herring was created by Boeing in its aggressive campaign against the NLRB. So far Boeing’s cynical strategy appears to be working. It has gotten congressional representatives to repeat the unsupported claims made by Boeing and to hold hearings and draft legislation that would hamstring the NLRB in doing its job.

No comments: