Lawmakers, Business Leaders Demand Obama Weigh in on NLRB Dispute

May 13, 2011

The Chamber's Randy Johnson listens as Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) explains NLRB's complaint against Boeing on May 10, 2011.

The U.S. Chamber joined Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), several members of Congress, and numerous trade associations in denouncing the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) actions to force Boeing Co. to move its’ newly built aircraft assembly line in South Carolina to Washington state.

“The precedent that the NLRB is attempting to establish here is so fundamentally unsound and troublesome that it cannot be ignored,” U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration & Employee Benefits Randy Johnson told reporters at a May 10 press conference at the Chamber. “The board has chosen to adhere to an ideological agenda rather than sound economic and labor policy, and the ramifications could be catastrophic for American job creators.”

Gov. Haley urged President Obama to denounce NLRB’s actions. “We’ve got to make sure that we are responding to this in a strong way,” Haley said at the press conference. “We have to do it in a loud way, and the president owes it to the state of South Carolina and every state in the country [to tell us] what he’s going to do in reference to what the NLRB has done against Boeing.”

Haley also urged governors and businesses to work together to counter the out-of-control actions of the NRLB—actions that she says could undermine state right-to-work laws and economic growth. “This is an issue that may have started in South Carolina, but we want to make sure it never touches another state,” she said. “This is an unbelievable attack on not just right-to-work states but every state that’s attempting to put their people to work.”

At issue is an overreaching complaint filed recently by the NLRB based on a Boeing decision to build a new jetliner assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina. The NLRB has alleged that Boeing discriminated against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by not locating the new plant in Puget Sound, Washington. The NLRB has ordered an end to the work being done in Charleston.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Boeing Chairman, President, and CEO Jim McNerney wrote that the airplane manufacturer decided to invest $1 billion in the new jetliner assembly plant, the first one built in the United States in 40 years. The construction phase alone is estimated to create more than 9,000 jobs. McNerney pointed out the Boeing is not transferring existing work from Washington state to South Carolina and that not a single union member in Washington has been adversely affected by this decision. In fact, he wrote, Boeing has added more than 2,000 union jobs in Washington, and the hiring continues.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), and South Carolina’s Attorney General Alan Wilson also spoke at the May 10 press conference and urged governors and business leaders to support newly-introduced federal legislation, the “Right to Work Protection Act,” that would clarify a state’s ability to enact right-to-work laws and protect states from federal interference. Right-to-work laws prohibit agreements between unions and companies that make union membership a requirement of employment.

The NLRB complaint goes before a Seattle administrative judge June 14.

Watch a video of the press conference.


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