NLRB Already Talking About ‘Settlement’ in Boeing Case

Yes, elected officials, business groups and the public are continuing to speak out against the National Labor Relation Board’s unprecedented and extreme complaint against The Boeing Company, even though NLRB’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, issued a statement Monday trying to silence the storm of criticism against the board.

Solomon’s statement also signaled the NLRB’s lack of confidence in the merits of its case.

The Associated Press reports, “Gov. Haley heads to Washington for Boeing battle“:

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP)- Governor Nikki Haley, members of Congress, U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials and business association leaders will hold a press conference on Tuesday in Washington, discuss concerns relating to the National Labor Relations Board complaint against the Boeing Company.

Joe Trauger, vice president for human resource policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, will participate in the 11:30 a.m. event. Other speakers from the business side are Business Roundtable President John Engler; the Chamber’s Randy Johnson, senior vice president of labor, immigration, and employee benefits; and Dan Yager, chief policy officer and general counsel at HR Policy Association.

In his statement Monday, Solomon urged “all interested parties [to] respect the legal process, rather than trying to litigate this case in the media and public arena.” The NAM’s Trauger already pointed out the arrogance represented by a government official like Solomon attempting to silence criticism after all he and the NLRB have done to promote their arguments “in the media and public arena.”

Solomon’s statement is interesting for another reason, his invocation of the word “settlement.”

It is important to note that the issuance of a complaint is just the beginning of a legal process, which now moves to a hearing before an administrative law judge. That hearing, scheduled for June 14 in Seattle, is the appropriate time and place to argue the merits of the complaint. The judge’s decision can further be appealed to the Board, and ultimately to the federal courts. At any point in this process, the parties could reach a settlement agreement and we remain willing to participate in any such discussions at the request of either or both parties.

Such a prominent appeal to “settlement” is highly unusual, perhaps unprecedented, knowledgeable observers tell us.

We read the statement to be Solomon acknowledging the weakness of the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing, which he filed at the behest of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. This is the equivalent of a prosecutor saying, “We are confident in the strength of our case, but you know, there’s a judge, and it’s kind of hard, and maybe we’ll reach a deal or the charges might be dropped, because … A settlement would be really, really good, we think.”

Better idea: The NLRB should resist the political pressure from the labor unions and the Obama Administration and just withdraw the complaint, apologize and move on.

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