How could we have gone three days without a post on the radicalized National Labor Relations Board? Well, there really have been few developments after last Thursday’s hearing in the Senate HELP Committee, “The Endangered Middle Class: Is the American Dream Slipping Out of Reach for American Families?,” which turned into a hearing on Boeing and the NLRB.
Mostly the story has percolated as new columnists catch up on the issue, as in George Will’s excellent piece over the weekend, “The Dreamliner nightmare.” (Datelined North Charleston, S.C., which means he was there. We saw Will rushing through Union Station last week, looking quite fit for a scribe who just celebrated his 70th birthday. Congratulations!)
The major substantive development was the introduction of S. 964, the Job Protection Act, by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on Thursday, May 12. In his floor speech (here), Alexander explained:
The Job Protection Act, which I introduce today on behalf of 34 Senators, would preserve the Federal law’s current protection of State right-to-work laws in the National Labor Relations Act and provide necessary clarity to prevent the NLRB from moving forward in their case against Boeing or attempting a similar strategy against other companies.
Specifically, the Job Protection Act would, first, explicitly clarify that the board cannot order an employer to relocate jobs from one location to another; two, it guarantees an employer the right to decide where to do business within the United States; and, three, it protects an employer’s free speech regarding the costs associated with having a unionized workforce without fear of such communication being used as evidence in an anti-union discrimination suit.
Sen. Alexander announced general plans for the bill on May 4, and it appears he and his colleagues used the time since to craft a solid piece of legislation.
We appreciate the Senator’s mention of the First Amendment protections, a underreported part of this controversy. The NLRB seeks to punish Boeing in part because several top executives spoke openly about the business costs of labor disruptions. If the board’s complaint stands, company executives could be deprived of their rights to say things like, “We’re concerned that a strike could make it hard to deliver our products and make us less competitive.” That’s not a threat of retaliation, that’s a statement of opinion that should always be protected free speech.
Elsewhere, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. In a discussion of the 2012 campaigns and Republican candidates, she also repeated her call for a comment on the NLRB’s complaint from President Obama. (continue reading…)