In Response to NLRB Bullying
Lafe E. Solomon, Esquire Acting General Counsel National Labor Relations Board1099 14 th Street, NW, Suite 8600 Washington, DC 20570 Dear Mr. Solomon: As Attorneys General of our respective states, we call upon you, as Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), to withdraw immediately the complaint numbered 19-CA-32431 against Boeing. This complaint represents an assault upon the constitutional right of free speech, and the ability of our states to create jobs and recruit industry. Your ill-conceived retaliatory action seeks to destroy our citizens’ right to work. It is South Carolina and Boeing today, but will be any of our states, with our right to work guarantees, tomorrow. The right to work, uninhibited by compulsory unionism, is a precious right and is constitutionally enforceable through our states’ right to work laws. See Retail Clerks Int’l v. Schermerhorn, 375 U.S. 96 (1963). Such laws are designed to eliminate union affiliation as a criterion for employment. However, the NLRB, through this single proceeding, attempts to sound the death knell of the right to work. Additionally, this tenuous complaint will reverberate throughout union and non-union states alike, as international companies will question the wisdom of locating in a country where the federal government interferes in industry without cause or justification. Furthermore, this complaint disrupts, and may well eliminate, the production of Boeing 787 Dreamliners in South Carolina. In fact, Boeing has expanded its operations to meet product demand in South Carolina, while adding new jobs in Washington State. The complaint charges Boeing with the commission of an unfair labor practice, but appears to do so without legal and factual foundation. This unparalleled and overreaching action seeks to drive a stake through the heart of the free enterprise system. The statements of Boeing officials cited in your complaint are the innocent exercise of the company’s right of free speech. The Supreme Court long ago made it clear that the NLRA does not limit, and the First Amendment protects, the employer's right toexpress views on labor policies or problems. N.L.R.B. v. Va. Electric and Power , 314 US 469, Hon. Lafe E. Solomon April 27, 2011 Page 2477 (1941). As the Court recently reiterated in Citizens United v. FEC , 130 S. Ct. 876, 899-90 (2010), a corporation is not a second class citizen in terms of First Amendment protection. Our states are struggling to emerge from one of the worst economic collapses since the Depression. Your complaint further impairs an economic recovery. Intrusion by the federal bureaucracy on behalf of unions will not create a single new job or put one unemployed person back to work. The only justification for the NLRB’s unprecedented retaliatory action is to aid union survival. Your action seriously undermines our citizens’ right to work as well as their ability to compete globally. Therefore, as Attorneys General, we will protect our citizens from union bullying and federal coercion. We thus call upon you to cease this attack on our right to work, our states’ economies, and our jobs. We look forward to your immediate response. Sincerely, Alan Wilson Attorney General
Posted by ThinkSnow99
Law360, New York (April 20, 2011) -- The National Labor Relations Board
slapped Boeing Co
. with a complaint Wednesday over the aerospace giant's decision to open a production line at a South Carolina nonunion facility, alleging the move was retaliation for strikes by unionized Washington state employees.
The board claims Boeing brass made public comments about moving a 787 Dreamliner production line to South Carolina in response to strikes by International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers members in Washington's Puget Sound area.
“A worker's right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act,” said Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel for the NLRB. “We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law.”
Boeing, a Chicago-based company that has long been a fixture in Washington state, criticized the NLRB's complaint and promised to contest the allegations.
"This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent," said Boeing Executive Vice President and general counsel J. Michael Luttig. "Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region."
Solomon said he had met with Boeing and IAM, who filed its complaint with the NLRB in March 2010, to reach a settlement and remains open to that possibility.
Boeing decided to launch a second 787 Dreamliner line to assemble three airplanes a month in order to tackle a backlog of orders. In October 2009, the company picked a facility in North Charleston, S.C.
In the complaint, the NLRB lists numerous statements from Boeing executives that bringing the assembly line to South Carolina was in response to strikes by employees represented by IAM in Washington.
Boeing President, Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney said in an October 2009 conference call that moving the line to a nonunion South Carolina facility was due to “strikes happening every three to four years in Puget Sound,” the complaint said.
Later that month, a Boeing memo sent to its employees noted that moving the line to South Carolina would reduce delivery disruptions caused by work stoppages, it said.
The comments were “discouraging” membership in a union and considered unfair labor practice, according to the complaint.
In response to NLRB's complaint, Boeing defended its decision by noting that none of the production jobs created in South Carolina come at the expense of its Washington employees. Boeing was unable to reach an agreement with IAM leadership that would allow the company to be competitive globally, the company said.
According to IAM District 751, which represents 25,000 Boeing employees, leadership offered Boeing an 11-year agreement to maintain labor stability in order to keep the assembly line in Washington.
“Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights,” IAM Vice President Rich Michalski said. “Federal labor law is clear: it’s illegal to threaten or penalize workers who engage in concerted activity.”
The NLRB is seeking an order to move the 787 Dreamliner assembly line to Washington. But Luttig seemed bullish on a successful launch of the South Carolina facility, which is expected to produce its first airplane in July.
"We fully expect to complete our new state-of-the-art facility in South Carolina in the weeks ahead, and we will be producing 787s — America's next great export — from our factories in both Puget Sound and South Carolina for decades to come," Luttig said.
Boeing spokesman Tim Neale declined to identify the company's outside counsel for the matter.
The case is The Boeing Co. and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751, case number 19-CA-32431, before the National Labor Relations Board, Region 19.