In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina.
In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes. The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said it was illegal for companies to take actions in retaliation against workers for exercising the right to strike.
Although manufacturers have long moved plants to nonunion states, the board noted that Boeing officials had, in internal documents and news interviews, specifically cited the strikes and potential future strikes as a reason for their 2009 decision to expand in South Carolina.
(I suppose next time Boeing will just learn to not leave an evidence trail. But I digress). At first I thought it was just the Obama Administration shoring up support for 2012 in a Democratic-leaning state that can’t be taken for granted. But maybe this is what they were afraid of (italics mine):
The International Association of Fire Fighters announced today it is freezing donations to federal candidates and party committees and will shift its money to fight anti-union efforts in state legislatures around the country.
The decision could hurt Democrats, who received more than 80% of the money donated by the union’s political action committee in 2010′s midterm elections for Congress, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. In all, the union said it spent $15 million on federal politics last year.
General President Harold Schaitberger said the union faces legislative fights, ballot measures and recall elections that threaten workers’ rights in at least nine states. At the same time, the union’s traditional allies in Congress haven’t aggressively defended firefighters, he said.
“We are simply shutting down any contributions going to any federal candidates or to any federal PACs or committees until, quite frankly, our friends are willing to stand up and fight on our behalf with the same kind of ferocity that our enemies and those that are literally trying to destroy us are doing on the other side,” Schaitberger told USA TODAY.
This has been a long time coming. Did the Obama Administration or the Congressional Democrats ever follow through on EFCA (card check legislation)? No, that got shoved off the agenda by calls for ‘fiscal austerity’ (even as unemployment was at nine percent, and one out of six workers is unemployed or underemployed). Did any of them even broach the idea of repealing Taft-Hartley, so the Boeing situation wouldn’t arise in the first place?
Are you kidding? Of course not. Instead, this is what counts as Boldly Winning the Hopey Future:
Although the board has not yet issued many major decisions reversing Bush-era policies, it has proposed requiring private sector employers to post a notice about workers’ right to unionize, and Mr. Solomon has begun moving more aggressively to win reinstatement of union supporters fired illegally by management during unionization drives.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Solomon said: “A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law.”
That’s a good start, but, after the Thirty Years’ War against the middle class, that’s not good enough. And they’ve had over two years–that’s what you do after two months. Let’s not forget the Mad Biologist’s Pentultimate Political Theory: people have to like this crap.
If this is as good as it gets, why should they?