The Herald newspaper that serves Everett, Wash. — home to one of Boeing’s major unionized assembly facilities — comes out strongly today against the National Labor Relations Board’s recent complaint against the company for locating new production facilities in South Carolina instead of Washington State. While forcing Boeing to manufacture the 787 Dreamliner in Washington would have immediate economic benefits for the Puget Sound region, The Herald recognized the big picture, that is, the NLRB’s unprecedented action represents a threat to economic growth throughout the United States.
From the editorial, “NLRB action hardly helpful“:
The NLRB says Boeing should have to operate the second line in Washington. (Even though the 787 “surge” line it’s already operating in Everett is likely to become permanent.)
That’s a remarkable position. A government agency believes it should be able to tell a company where it can and can’t build a factory. Its implications for business growth in strong union states like Washington are sobering: Why would a new company locate here if it knows it might never be able to expand to another state, like South Carolina, where laws protecting unions are much weaker?
Bad precedent. The sooner a judge throws this case out, the better.
The Detroit News made a similar point in its “Rein in the NLRB” editorial last week: If the NLRB’s pro-union action holds up, states with closed-shop laws will become less attractive to businesses.
The Everett newspaper also warned that the NLRB’s move could harm corporate-union relations, chiding the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for its intransigence.
They could be dangerously overplaying their hand. They should keep in mind that this isn’t a Seattle-based company anymore. Its first loyalty is to shareholders, not a particular community. And although it’s true that the local aerospace workforce is the best on the planet currently, large numbers of Puget Sound Machinists and engineers are nearing retirement. It might not take long for another region to catch up.A prosperous future for unionized aerospace workers here depends on a long-term, cooperative partnership with the Boeing Co. The NLRB’s action, and the union’s hard-edged tone, risk undermining that.
Without doubt, today’s Machinists deserve much of the credit for the company’s success. Unfortunately, that ensures nothing for tomorrow.
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