Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More on the Boeing Complaint

NLRB I've  been surprised at how much attention is getting paid to the NLRB General Counsel's complaint against Boeing.  Based on what I've seen, the conservative uproar to what, based on the allegations is a relatively straightforward case of an employer punishing workers for striking (with admittedly large potential economic impacts), is way out of proportion.  But this editorial from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required, but if you Google the title, you can find it free) and the legislation it describes, has now entered the bizzaro stage. 

As for the editorial, even taking into account the normal tenor one would expect from a WSJ editorial, I honestly don't ever remember seeing any piece of writing with so many inaccuracies.  For instance, there's the title, which states that there is a Board ruling (it's just a GC complaint); the description of the remedy to shut down production in South Carolina (the GC doesn't seek that, it would just require Boeing to maintain production in Washington; and the argument that the complaint requires employers to stay in non-right-to-work states (I don't even know where to begin).  Two minutes with a fact-checker would've had these cut, although that would've undermined the purpose of the editorial and its support for the legislation.

Speaking of which, the bill by Sens. Alexander, Graham, and DeMint purports to strengthen right-to-work laws ( Download Alexander bill).  But I don't see how, aside from maybe allowing states to pass laws to preclude certain CBA provisions.  The fact that Alexander describes the bill as preventing the NLRA from preempting right-to-work laws is particularly ridiculous given that state right-to-work laws are specifically permitted by Section 14 of the NLRA.  Maybe someone else can think of a more substantive effect of this bill--if so, I'd love to hear it.

If I were more talented, I'd do a Saturday Night Live "Really!?!" take on these.

Hat Tip:  Patrick Kavanagh


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I'm just glad I didn't give my students a Darlington/Dubuque fact pattern on this semester's "any materials" take home final. Dollars to doughnuts I would have had someone confused by these developments. Looking at the large strategic picture this makes perfect sense. First do a national attack on collective bargaining. Then follow with a very thinly veiled attack on the right to strike itself. These are in my opinion gambits designed to assess how the labor movement will respond. Here's the thing - if you don't punch the bully on the chin, he has no incentive to stop attacking you. To paraphrase the words of the immortal Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer, sometimes the game is really simple. Put your head down and push. (Or push back, as the case may be).

Posted by: Michael Duff | May 5, 2011 9:36:32 AM

Here's the complaint

Don't these unionists realize that Boeing is in a highly-competitive race with Airbus A380 for the sales of the Dreamliner and that they are killing the company? Don't they want to see the company (and themselves) prosper? Can't Boeing simply hire replacement workers in Washington and continue with the plant in South Carolina?

Posted by: joe marino | May 5, 2011 1:31:19 PM

Based upon the press release by the Board, I would agree that the Boeing case is relatively straightforward. However, having now read the response by Boeing's GC, I don't believe it to be so straightforward. Boeing is taking the position that it can establish that no work was transferred from WA. 7 787's is the maximum output for the (unionized) facility there. They now need to build 10. The first seven are staying at the unionized facility. Only then, did they make the decision as to where to build the remaining three 787s - by expanding the facility in WA, or moving to another state. Based upon a number of factors (not just prior strikes) they elected to build those three additional 787s in another facility - an expansion of operations. Further, the Board's press release and complaint appears to misquote (or quote out of context) Boeing's representatives, as well as the agreements between Boeing and the State of WA. Combined with the assurances that the NLRB previously requested (and were given), I don't think it is necessarily unfair to ask why the NLRB is responding so aggressively to a situation that is not nearly as clear cut as they initially claimed.


Posted by: Tor | May 6, 2011 3:42:37 AM

A suggestion ,if I may.
As the comment section now stands, there is no response to the criticisms that Tor made. Would it be possible for Professor Hirsch to clarify the significance and accuracy of the allegations made by Tor? I find it unsettling to have these stand as they now do.

Posted by: ben | Jan 2, 2012 10:02:43 AM

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