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Harry Reid Backs NLRB in Boeing Dispute Citing “Checks and Balances”

On April 20, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board released a statement noting they were seeking to cancel the Boeing Company’s plans to open a second manufacturing line in South Carolina for it 787 Dreamliner passenger airplane. The NLRB complaint contends that Boeing’s decision to move a second production line to South Carolina (a right to work state with a non-unionized workforce) is retaliation against the unionized workers in the state of Washington.

Boeing has said in several memos and inter-office emails that the decision to create a second line in South Carolina was based, in part, because of production disruption caused by union strikes in 1977, 1989, 1995, 2005 and 2008.

The NLRB now claims that by establishing a second production line in South Carolina, Boeing is retaliating against the union workers in Washington and that is against the law.

The sheer absurdity of the claim is mind boggling. First, no jobs are being lost at the Washington plant. This is a second line that is being opened. The second line is needed because of the success of the plane. Boeing is selling quite a number of the planes and given the demand, needs more production. You would think that in this economy the Federal government would celebrate and encourage such a success story. Instead, they are seeking to shut it down. The NLRB is basically saying that any jobs needed to assemble the 787 Dreamliner belong to the union in the state of Washington. It is the union, and not the company, the NLRB feels should determine where a manufacturing line is created. In essence, the NLRB is saying the union in Washington has legitimate claims to the jobs created by the second production line. Legally and logically, this is false. As required by law, Boeing has submitted a response to the complaint. It literally destroys every single argument put forth by the NLRB and can be found here, if you desire to read it.

The NLRB complaint has met with derision across the country. Former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Peter Schaumber calls the complaint “unprecedented” and worries that if upheld, it would restrict the right of a company to move from a union state to a right to work state. The Wall Street Journal notes that Boeing had put $2 billion dollars into the second line plant in South Carolina before the NLRB complaint, money that would be wasted and effectively sound the death knoll of right to work states. Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, South Carolina’s Attorney General Alan Wilson. Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) , Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsay Graham have made comments critical of the NLRB complaint. Even the Detroit News, located in one of the most union friendly cities and states in the nation, criticizes the NLRB and calls its tactics “anti-business.”

This case also illustrates the lack of leadership of President Obama. In a press briefing held on May 11, 2011, this exchange with Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney took place:

Q Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who chairs the President’s Export Council, said the National Labor Relations Board suit against his company for building a plant in a right-to-work state is a fundamental assault on capitalism. I’m wondering is the President aware of the issue, and does he think the government should be involved in how businesses allocate capital or resources?

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s obviously been in the news, so we are aware of it, but I would refer any questions about it to the NLRB because it is an independent agency, and we do not get involved in particular enforcement matters of independent agencies.

Q The President has weighed in on outside issues before, though. I mean is this something — it’s also coming from someone who is chairing the Export Council, who’s saying this is hurting job creation.

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a reaction to this from the President. And I think the fact that he’s weighed in on outside issues doesn’t mean that he will weigh in on an independent agency’s enforcement action.

Into that void of leadership steps the mind numbing vacuum of thought that is former Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, (D-NV) who said on May 11, 2011:

“The Founders created a system of checks and balances — three branches of government, for example, and two chambers of the Congress — precisely because they anticipated these passions,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

“Long after that system was created, a new independent federal agency was created in the same spirit of checks and balances,” said Reid. “That agency is the National Labor Relations Board, and it acts as a check on employers and employees alike.”

Apparently Reid has forgotten what every fourth grader learns in a civics class. The “checks and balances” within the government were incorporated by the founders so that no one branch of the government would be able to obtain and wield more power over the other branches and ultimately the people. The “checks and balances” restricts the government – it does not restrict private citizens and their enterprises.

The Founding Fathers never could have envisioned a “National Labor Relations Board” that would act without review as the NLRB does. They never would have allowed such unrestricted power from a government agency. In the world of business, the “checks and balances” the Founding Fathers understood was the marketplace itself. They understood and promoted the idea that people are free to make decisions based on economic reasons without government interference, hindrance or approval. This is best illustrated by Thomas Jefferson who wrote:

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.

Clearly the NLBR in this and other cases, are engaged in an all out assault on the freedoms American citizens and businesses. The silent, tacit approval of this administration in the NLRB attacks speak volumes. What we are seeing from the left and Democrats is a steady drive to take property from people.

Boeing has the Constitutional and God given right to put a plant in whatever state it wants. The NLRB, Obama, and Reid’s contention not withstanding, it is the right of a business to locate and do business without interference from the government.



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