An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board takes up the agency’s dubious charges against Boeing tomorrow in Seattle. The hearing comes at a time when the NLRB, currently controlled by liberal appointees, is facing widespread backlash for its decision.
The dispute between Boeing and the NLRB came up at Monday’s presidential debate in New Hampshire. Republican candidates criticized the federal agency for meddling in a private company’s business decisions.
Boeing had already built its plant in South Carolina and hired workers when the NLRB sued to stop it. The NLRB’s action was viewed as retaliation against a right-to-work state in favor of heavily unionzed Washington state.
Now the case goes before an NLRB judge, whose hearing in Seattle is drawing significant attention.
Washington state’s largest newspaper came out against the NLRB’s intervention — even though it originally editorialized in favor of Boeing building the plant in the state. The Seattle Times’ editorial Monday took a tough stand against the NLRB:
In its complaint, the NLRB is attempting to reverse a U.S. investment by the nation’s No. 1 exporter 17 months after the company decided to make it — after the money has been spent, after the equipment is set up and after 1,000 workers have been hired. In South Carolina, assembly of the first 787 is scheduled to begin this summer. For the government to demand now that the company move everything to another state shows no sense of practical reality.
The “other state” is, of course, our own. This newspaper favored the company building the second 787 line here. We want Boeing to build its next commercial jetliner here and all its commercial jetliners here. But that is Boeing’s decision to make, not the government’s.
Further undermining the NLRB’s case is Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Jim Albaugh. He told the Seattle Times that workers in Washington state shouldn’t fear job losses as a result of the South Carolina plant. In fact, he expects rapid growth in the future.
Once the administrative law judge issues a decision, the case could go to the NLRB board. But complicating matters for the NLRB is the potential that the four-member board might not be able to convene a quorum. NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman’s term expires in August. Recess appointee Craig Becker’s term will end at the end of 2011.
Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and James Sherk have argued the NLRB’s actions threaten business investment and job creation. The issue is especially potent with the country facing a 9.1 percent unemployment rate in the country.
“Boeing made an economic decision involving a large capital investment that was justified by the history of union strikes in Washington and by South Carolina’s estimated $900 million incentive package,” they wrote last month. “The NLRB’s decision to issue a complaint in the matter represents an unbridled, unauthorized, and unlawful expansion of the regulatory power of an executive agency.”