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-work” state. 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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