From a leader (editorial) in the latest Economist, “Don’t bully Boeing, Barack,” with the secondary headline, “Want to prove you are ‘pro-business’? Condemn a loony-left complaint against America’s biggest exporter.”
The NLRB is an autonomous body, but its board members are appointed by the president. Under a Democratic president, American businesses expect a more pro-union line, but the agency’s recent militancy is shocking, reminiscent of “loony-left” posturing in Britain in the 1970s. Not only does the agency in effect claim the power to tell firms where they may build factories. It is also suing two states (Arizona and South Dakota) where voters have decided that workers should be guaranteed a secret-ballot election before their workplace is unionised. Mr Obama has so far said nothing about any of these cases. The president claims he understands business. Condemning the NLRB would be a good way to prove it.
The magazine also covers the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing in an article, “A watchdog bites: A federal agency bashes Boeing“:
Businesspeople everywhere in America are stunned. Employers have a constitutional right to whinge about unions (and vice versa). They are not allowed to punish strikers—by sacking them, for example. But Boeing has done nothing of the sort. No work has been transferred from Boeing’s Puget Sound plant to South Carolina, nor have any IAM members lost their jobs. In 2007 Boeing announced that it would build seven 787s per month in Puget Sound; two years later, to handle the backlog of orders, it announced an expansion to South Carolina. The backlog is so large that Boeing is increasing its workforce at Puget Sound, not cutting it.
We’d like to see a First Amendment expert address the issue mentioned above, the constitutional right to criticize labor. Articles and blog posts have raised the issue, but we have yet to see a full examination of the free speech implication in the NLRB’s complaint.