Agency rebuke of Boeing sets labor battle

Dan Danner
President & CEO, NFIB

“This is one of the worst examples of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that I’ve ever seen,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. But Graham and millions of small-business owners may be in store for even more bureaucratic muscle-flexing by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), now dominated by the President’s pro-union appointees. The NLRB has recently begun interpreting labor law much more broadly than Congress ever intended. Now the agency has decided it can tell the private sector where it can do business and where it cannot.

Just a few days ago, the labor board alleged that airplane manufacturer Boeing violated federal law by opening a new production line in non-union South Carolina, rather than expanding a current union production line in Washington State.

Never mind that Boeing more than 18 months ago announced plans to expand its 787 Dreamliner operations beyond strike-happy Washington to Graham’s business-friendly South Carolina. Never mind that South Carolina also offered significant tax incentives to locate a facility there. And never mind that the Washington operation would not only continue but grow itself!

NFIB South Carolina state director J.J. Darby put it best when he referred to this action as “overreaching, offensive and an attack on South Carolina’s status as a right-to-work state. People shouldn’t have to join a union to get a job and companies should be allowed to make their own decisions about where and how to run their businesses. NLRB’s actions are retaliatory and politically-motivated, an attempt to appease union voters.”

Just two days after it filed the Boeing suit, the NLRB notified South Carolina and three other states—Arizona, South Dakota and Utah—that its cadre of federal lawyers would begin filing suits to nullify their recently-passed state constitutional amendments protecting the right to a secret ballot.

Remember “card-check?” The deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act specifically designed to eliminate secret ballots for employees so unions could more easily organize small businesses?

Sure you do. You helped NFIB in our successful fight in Congress to keep it off the law books. But big labor couldn’t get its way fairly through the democratic process, so now it’s going to use the NLRB to do the dirty work.

Big Labor is in a precarious position. Their members have fled in droves. Last year, they lost 612,000 wage and salary workers. Now, less than 7 percent of private-sector employees carry union cards.

By putting union activists in control of government agencies and pursuing anti-business policies such as mandated health care, the Administration discourages entrepreneurs and strangles employment opportunities.

Unleashing a government agency to tilt the playing field in favor of big labor is a clear message to you and millions of other small-business owners: “Boeing today, card-check tomorrow.”

Sen. Graham and NFIB’s J.J. Darby said it right. It’s all about union politics.


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