Labor and the NLRB Try to Dictate Boeing Location

by Michael Haberman on May 6, 2011 · 2 comments


The Boeing Company is in a spat with their labor union. According to a story in an Investment U newsletter, entitled Boeing’s Free Labor Union Battle Rages On… , in 2009 Boeing was firming up plans to build another plant dedicated to building a new airplane. Although not required to management sat down with the union to discuss the plans hoping for an amicable agreement with the union. Well they did not get it. As the article says “The negotiations didn’t go well. The biggest sticking point:  The union wanted a contractual guarantee that Boeing would build all  Dreamliners in Puget Sound, in the same area as the current plants Boeing uses  for its commercial airplanes…. Management balked, and rather than giving in to this demand,  Boeing began searching for another place to put its second plant.” They decided on South Carolina, which happens to be a “right-to-workstate. The unions cried foul and complained to the NLRB stating that the move was punitive.

Normally companies are allowed to locate wherever they want, however, in this case the NLRB sided with the union. As the article says “In past years, such a complaint wouldn’t be given much  chance – companies, by and large, are allowed to build plants wherever they see  fit. This time was different…A New NLRB Precedent With  Far-Reaching Implications…The NLRB ruled in favor of the  union and stopped work on the non-unionized plant in South Carolina. Boeing is  currently appealing the decision.”

Republican leaders have also objected to the move by the NLRB. They think it sets a dangerous precedent. According to Senator Johnny Isakson’s website “It is unfathomable that a federal agency would file a  complaint like this against a company simply because the company wants  to expand its operation in a nonunion, right-to-work state,” said Isakson, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “The federal government has no business telling a private company where it can or cannot do business.” Attorneys General from eight states have also sent letters to the NLRB protesting the action.

From the letter sent to the NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon Senator Isakson and his collegues said “It is clear that Boeing’s legitimate business  decision had no adverse impact on the Puget Sound workforce – indeed,  2,000 additional jobs have been created there since 2009.  Under  well-established precedent, employers may consider mitigating the impact  of strikes as a business objective.  Given the multitude of U.S.  industries dependent on the product forthcoming from this production  line, the desire to ensure continuity of operations is only logical.”

I have said in the past that the future of employment law in this country is not in Congress, rather it is in the decisions and reversal of decisions that the National Labor Relations Board are making. Unfortunately talking to your Representative or Senator has limited effect. They are not voting on these moves. You need to be watching what is happening on the NLRB, EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE UNIONS. Their decisions will have far reaching implications even for non-union companies.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dave Ryan May 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Wow this is a frightening precidence. If the current NLRB is allowed to get away with this, it will change the landscape – or at least until this decsion is tied up in court.. Thanks for putting out this great stuff on labor. There are some of us out here that have to operate in this arena. And for those that don’t they ought to keep thier ear to the ground to know what is going on,

On a personal note, Mike it was great to put a face with a name and to get to talk and have a couple drinks with ya. If I can ever do annthing for you don’t hesitate to contact me.

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