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Labor board's Boeing 'retreat' is big win for union bosses


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Washington Examiner:

It's being described by some in the mainstream media in terms that suggest the National Labor Relations Board caved to political pressure from conservatives in its decision last week to drop its case against Boeing. In fact, the decision represents a near-total victory for Big Labor, a point crudely driven home by the threat from the board's general counsel that other firms could expect similar attacks in the future. There is simply no way to put a positive spin on this outcome from a conservative perspective.

The case originated earlier this year when the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers complained to the board about Boeing's decision to move part of the production of its new 787 commercial jet to a new factory it built in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The NLRB then took Boeing to court, claiming the firm's decision represented an illegal retaliation against the union for exercising its collective bargaining rights under federal law. That presented Boeing with the unpleasant prospect of having to abandon its $1 billion investment in the new plant, including more than 1,000 newly hired workers.

The board dropped its charge against Boeing last week at the request of the Machinists after the company agreed to keep production of a new version of its familiar 737 jet with the unionized workers in the Seattle area. The deal also includes substantial raises for the union workers and increased job security for them. General Counsel Lafe Solomon claimed "the case was always about the loss of future jobs in the Seattle area. This agreement has resolved that issue. There is job security in the Washington area." But Solomon's claim makes no sense in the context of his own actions against Boeing. Not a single unionized job in Seattle was lost as a result of the South Carolina move because it represented a workforce expansion, not a workforce reduction in Washington state.

In addition, the primary ground cited by the board for its complaint against Boeing was the government's allegation that the South Carolina move was retaliation against the union after it refused to accept cost-cutting concessions proposed by the company. The union was angry because Boeing's expansion in South Carolina failed to add new dues-paying workers to its Seattle membership roll. Beyond such considerations for the union, President Obama's ideologically directed appointees on the board saw the case as an opportunity to strike a blow against the right-to-work laws in 22 states by making an example out of Boeing.snip
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