NLRB Decision: One for the (Dark) Ages

By April 21, 2011General, Labor Unions

The Wall Street Journal editorializes on the complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing, in which the NLRB demands that the company open a second production line in the Puget Sound to compensate for its building of a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina. From “The Death of Right to Work — After 17 months and $2 billion, the NLRB sandbags Boeing” (subscription):

We knew that Big Labor had political pull at the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, but yesterday’s complaint against Boeing is one for the (dark) ages. By challenging Boeing’s right to build aircraft in South Carolina, labor’s bureaucratic allies in Washington are threatening the ability of states to compete for new jobs and investment—and risking the economic recovery to boot….

Beyond labor politics, the NLRB’s ruling would set a terrible precedent for the flow of jobs and investment within the U.S. It would essentially give labor a veto over management decisions about where to build future plants. And it would undercut the right-to-work statutes in 22 American states—which is no doubt the main union goal here.

With a Republican House, Mr. Obama’s union agenda is dead in Congress. But it looks like his appointees are determined to impose it by regulatory fiat—no matter the damage to investment and job creation.

Yes, union agendas and regulatory fiats that the White House has consistently endorsed, contrary to the NLRB’s proper statutory role as an independent agency that is supposed to perform a quasi-judicial function — not enable organized labor’s dreams.

But the White House had given the NLRB its marching orders.  President Obama told the AFL-CIO Executive Council in August 2010: “My administration has consistently implemented not just legislative strategies but also where we have the power through executive orders to make sure that those basic values are reflected.” And, “We’re going to make sure that the National Labor Relations Board is restored to have some balance, so that if workers want to form a union, they can at least get a fair vote in a reasonable amount of time.”

And remember Vice President Biden’s invidious comments on an AFL-CIO conference call in March?

The first thing we did when we were putting together a cabinet was to change the playing field at the Department of Labor, which had changed the rules, and the NLRB and every other place, where the guys are supposed to wear striped shirts. These other guys, last time out, last eight years, have been wearing black shirts, they’re not striped shirts, they’re not refs, they weren’t playing by the rules, and we’ve been working like the devil to try to put the rules back in place.

Looks like the NLRB decided to skip the whole black vs. striped-shirt controversy but just pulling on one side’s jersey — the uniform of organized labor. And business has been sent off the field.

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