IAM Archives - Shopfloor

The Economist: President Should Condemn the ‘Loony-Left’ NLRB

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Labor Unions, Transportation | No Comments

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.

Boeing Complaint: Hatch Challenges Appointment, Authority of NLRB’s General Counsel

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | 4 Comments

President Obama skirted federal law and established procedures to appoint Lafe Solomon to serve as Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) charged this week, calling on the President to withdraw Solomon’s appointment in the wake of the NLRB’s unjustified and economically disastrous complaint against The Boeing Company.

Hatch took to the Senate floor Thursday to dissect and denounce the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing for locating new assembly facilities in South Carolina instead of Washington State.  In a lengthy statement (available here), the Utah Republican analyzed the NLRB’s contravention of federal law labor, warned of the competitive consequences of bureaucrats making facility-siting decisions, and criticized the Obama Administration for putting the interests of organized labor before the nation’s.

NLRB's Lafe Solomon

Hatch also challenged the validity of President Obama’s June 21, 2010, appointment of Solomon to serve as Acting General Counsel, arguing that the President ignored the established procedures for such appointments under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Instead, Hatch said, the President made Solomon his personal acting general counsel under “the more generous terms” of the Federal Vacancies Act, which is intended to apply to government vacancies in general.

Why did the President take this unusual step? Hatch:

Under the Vacancies Act, Mr. Solomon is allowed to stay in the job in an acting capacity, without Senate approval, for an initial 210 days—rather than the 40 days provided under the National Labor Relations Act—and then be reappointed again for another 210 days, and a third time for yet another 210 days, until the end of President Obama’s term.

This is yet another example of the President end running the law in order to ensconce in office individuals who would have a difficult time surviving the constitutionally required confirmation process—a process that ensures the people and their representatives have some meaningful oversight of the appointee.

Solomon filed the NLRB complaint against Boeing on April 20, acting in support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents workers at Boeing’s Washington facilities. Given the timing cited by Sen. Hatch above, Solomon’s appointment as Acting General Counsel should have expired on July 31, 2010, depriving Solomon of the authority to take the later action against the airplane manufacturer.

Hatch’s analysis carries extra weight because of the Senator’s status as a senior member on both the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee — which oversees the National Labor Relations Act — and the Senate Judiciary Committee. In challenging Solomon’s authority, the Senator also reinforces an argument made by Boeing in its defense.

Boeing’s formal response to the NLRB filed on May 4 challenges Solomon’s status, the 14th and final item in the list of the company’s defenses: “The Complaint is ultra vires because the Acting General Counsel of the NLRBdid not lawfully hold the office of Acting General Counsel at the time he directed that the Complaint be filed.” Ultra vires means outside of one’s authority. Read More

Pressure Mounts Over ‘Preposterous’ NLRB Complaint Against Boeing

By | Briefly Legal, Economy, Labor Unions | One Comment

McClatchy Newspapers reports on the Republican presidential debate in Greenville, S.C., “South Carolina’s Haley leaves mark on GOP presidential debate“:

With so few candidates at the debate, [Gov. Nikki]  Haley played a supporting role as the Fox News moderators took up her challenge to presidential candidates to weigh in on a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Boeing Charleston’s plant.

Pawlenty jumped first, claiming President Barack Obama’s administration crossed a new line in opposing Boeing’s decision to locate outside of its home base of Washington. “It’s a preposterous decision,” he said.

Minnesota Public Radio, “Pawlenty scores some points in first GOP debate“:

On the domestic front, Pawlenty drew wild applause from the audience when he stood with South Carolinians over a local labor issue involving Boeing aircraft jobs.

“You have this administration, through the National Labor Relations Board, telling a private company that they cannot relocate to South Carolina and provide jobs in this state. And they are good-paying jobs, and they’re needed jobs. It’s a preposterous decision and position of this administration.”

It’s not just a local labor issue. It’s a national issue of tremendous importance to businesses across the nation, who are deeply concerned about a National Labor Relations Board that arrogates to itself the power to determine where a company can locate new production facilities.

And although the Republicans have seized on the issue while Democrats, tied to organized labor, have remained mostly silent, this is also not inherently a partisan issue. The idea that a government agency can reinterpret precedent and ignore the facts of a case to shut down a billion-dollar operation employing more than 1,000 people should alarm those of all political affiliations who believe in private-sector growth.

The NLRB’s account of the facts of the case is suspect. Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) of the House Education and Workforce Committee has sent a letter (available here) to Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel who brought the complaint against Boeing.

The complaint references alleged statements made by Boeing officials between October 2009 and March 2010 that work stoppages were one reason for choosing the new location.

When asked about the charge in June 2010, the NLRB regional director Richard Ahearn told The Seattle Times “it would have been an easier case for the union to argue if Boeing had moved existing work from Everett, rather than placing new work in Charleston.” He was also unable to point to any “bright line” rule to determine whether the company’s actions violated the law. Finally, the regional director stated “an initial ruling is weeks away.”

The letter requests NLRB documents underlying the decision. Bloomberg reports, “Republicans Rally Behind Boeing Over Labor Board Complaint.”

On the Senate side, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and 18 other Senate Republicans have written President Obama calling on him to withdraw the nomination of Solomon — the NLRB’s general counsel job requires Senate confirmation — and NLRB member Craig Becker, the former SEIU lawyer who serves on the board via a recess appointment. From FoxNews.com, “Senate Republicans Threaten to Fight NLRB Nominations Over Boeing Complaint“: Read More

Boeing Files Formal Response, Refutes NLRB’s Facts, Legal Claims

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | No Comments

The Boeing Company has filed its “final answer” in response to the National Labor Relations Board’s April 20 complaint against the company for locating new assembly facilities for the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina. The company denies every claim in the NLRB’s charges, rebutting each one with direct and forceful statements.

The legal document (available here) was filed with the NLRB’s Seattle-based Region 19, where an Administrative Law Judge will hear the complaint on June 14. Along with the company’s letter sent Tuesday to the NLRB’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, the company has effectively destroyed the factual and legal case on which the NLRB based its unprecedented, extreme complaint.

The leading point of refutation:

Boeing’s decision to place the second 787 assembly line in North Charleston was based upon a number of varied factors, including a favorable business environment in South Carolina for manufacturing companies like Boeing; significant financial incentives from the State of South Carolina; achieving geographic diversity of its commercial airline operations; as well as to protect the stability of the 787’s global production system. In any event, even ascribing an intent to Boeing that it placed the second line in North Charleston so as to mitigate the harmful economic effects of an anticipated future strike would not be evidence that the decision to place the second assembly line in North Charleston was designed to retaliate against the IAM for past strikes. Nevertheless, Boeing would have made the same decisions with respect to the placement of the second assembly line in North Charleston even if it had not taken into consideration the damaging impact of future strikes on the production of 787s.

The legal filing raises numerous other credible points, e.g., noting that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers had waived its rights to challenge Boeing in a case like this as part of its collective bargaining agreement. Read More

Senate Republicans Alarmed by NLRB’s Anti-Boeing Move

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | No Comments

From the GOP members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, a news release, “HELP Committee Republicans Express Strong Concerns with Recent NLRB Complaint Against Boeing“:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Republicans, led by Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), today wrote to the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to express their strong concerns with the recent decision to file a complaint against Boeing for announcing plans to open a production facility in South Carolina.  The senators wrote that they are troubled by the chilling effect this action could have on other business decisions across the country….

“We have a duty to ensure that the National Labor Relations Act is being enforced in a fair manner,” wrote the senators.  “In this and other decisions, we believe that you have ignored the proper balance set forth in the Act between the employees’ right to collectively bargain and the employers’ right to due process.  We question the legal reasoning and motive behind the complaint, as well as the proposed remedy to force Boeing to move its additional production line to Washington State.”

The full letter is here. Other members of the committee who signed the letter include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

UPDATE (12:10 p.m.): The letter closes with a political shot across the bow. The letter was addressed to Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel who actually filed the complaint against The Boeing Company at the instigation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Engineers. The NLRB’s general counsel position requires Senate confirmation, and President Obama nominated Solomon to a four-year term in early January.

The Senators write: “While we understand the complaint process is still in the early stages, there is a need for the Board to explain the reasoning in this case to Congress. As your nomination is brought before our Committee, we will be asking for a greater explanation of your actions.”

It’s a Runaway National Labor Relations Board

By | Briefly Legal, General, Labor Unions | 3 Comments

A former member of the National Labor Relations Board today reaffirmed the NLRB’s authority to punish companies that close facilities, eliminate jobs and relocate to escape union contracts, but said the board’s recent complaint against Boeing does not fall under that “runaway shops” category under federal labor law.

Cleveland attorney Peter Kirsanow, who served as a Republican appointee on the NLRB in 2006-2007, addressed the board’s actions in a blogger briefing call this afternoon sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.

On April 20, the NLRB’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, filed a complaint against The Boeing Company, accusing it of commiting an unfair labor practice by building new production facilities for the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina instead of the Puget Sound region. As a remedy, Solomon seeks to force Boeing to build production facilities in Washington State, even though the company has already invested an estimated $2 billion in South Carolina and hired 1,000 employees.

Kirsanow explained that in typical “runaway shop” cases, an employer decides not to bargain with a union about the company’s decision to move from an existing unionized location to a non-union one: “In such a circumstance, if the employer failed to bargain with the union where labor costs were a consideration, then he has committed an unfair labor practice. And there IS a restoration remedy, that is, the board has the right and ability to order the employer to resume or return to the status quo and continue bargaining with the union.”

But Boeing’s construction of a new production line in North Charleston, S.C., did not transfer existing union jobs or move equipment from Washington, Kirsanow said. In fact, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have added some 2,000 union jobs in the Puget Sound area.  Kirsanow continued: Read More

SC Gov. Haley: President Owes Nation a Comment on NLRB, Boeing

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | One Comment

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) writes in The Wall Street Journal, “Obama’s Silence on Boeing is Unacceptable,” calling on the President to comment publicly on the National Labor Relation Board’s complaint against Boeing for locating additional 787 Dreamliner production in South Carolina instead of Washington state.

While silence in this case can be assumed to mean consent, President Obama’s silence is not acceptable—not to me, and certainly not to the millions of South Carolinians who are rightly aghast at the thought of the greatest economic development success our state has seen in decades being ripped away by federal bureaucrats who appear to be little more than union puppets.

This is not just a South Carolina issue, and President Obama owes the people of our country a response. If they get away with this government-dictated economic larceny, the unions won’t stop in our state.

The nation deserves an explanation as to why the president’s appointees are doing the machinist union’s dirty work on the backs of the businesses and workers of South Carolina.

Members of the White House press corps have yet to ask spokesman Jay Carney about the issue.


Eight Attorneys General Call on NLRB to Withdraw Boeing Complaint

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | One Comment

Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina and eight other state attorneys general have a written a sharp letter to the National Labor Relations Board calling on the NLRB to immediately withdraw its complaint against Boeing as “an assault upon the constitutional right of free speech, and the ability of our states to create jobs and recruit industry.”

The AGs’ letter was addressed to Lafe Solomon, the acting general counsel of the NLRB who brought the complaint against Boeing for locating additional production facilities for the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina instead of Washington State. Solomon’s complaint, brought at the instigation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, would force Boeing to manufacturer the planes in the Puget Sound area.

From the AG letter (available here):

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. Read More

Sen. Grassley on NLRB and Boeing: Congress Can Fix the Law

By | Briefly Legal, Labor Unions | No Comments

The first question posed to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) at an NAM-sponsored event in Pella, Iowa, on Wednesday dealt with the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against The Boeing Company for locating new production facilities in South Carolina instead of Washington state. (For more on the event, see The Journal Express,NAM presents Grassley with legislative excellence award.”)

Sen. Grassley responded with sharp criticism, saying, “”If the law lets the NLRB do this, then we need to change the law.”

It’s an important “if.” In filing its complaint against Boeing for locating a new production line for the 787 Dreamliner plane in South Carolina, the NLRB had to ignore 45 years of the board’s own precedent, which clearly established an employer’s legitimate interest in mitigating the impact of strikes. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that interest in two cases, American Ship Building Co. v. NLRB, 380 U.S. 300 (1965) and NLRB v. Brown, 380 U.S. 286 (1965)].

An Administrative Law Judge has scheduled a June 14 hearing on the NLRB’s complaint, which was filed by the board’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, at the instigation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The NLRB could eventually hear the case and court proceedings are certainly possible, despite the complaint being “legally frivolous” as Boeing characterized it in a tough statement after the Solomon’s action.

But what if? In a very helpful review of the law, the National Review’s Robert VerBruggen describes the vague and poorly written National Labor Relations Act and the process now facing Boeing. Read More

NLRB Decision: One for the (Dark) Ages

By | General, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

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.” Read More