Skip to comments.Obama’s Union Thugs Descend on American Industry
Posted on 04/25/2011 5:31:49 AM PDT by SJackson
In perhaps one of the Obama administrations most transparent efforts to burnish its pro-union credentials for the 2012 election, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is suing the Boeing Corporation, claiming its effort to move some of its 787 Dreamliner production from Everett, Washington to its $750 million aircraft plant in North Charleston, South Carolina represents unfair labor practices. South Carolina is a right-to-work state, whereas Washington remains a union stronghold of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). The NLRB claims Boeings move is retaliation for a series of IAMAW strikes between 1989 and 2008. Boeing says it will vigorously contest the lawsuit, and a June 14th hearing in Seattle has been scheduled.
A workers right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act, said NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon in a statement released Wednesday. We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law. J. Michael Luttig, Boeings general counsel disagreed: This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent, he countered.
The NLRB acted on a complaint filed by the IAMAW in March 2010. An investigation ensued, and the NLRB found reasonable cause that Boeing had violated two sections of the National Labor Relations Act by picking Charleston Airport as the site of its second Dreamliner assembly plant, instead of expanding its existing facilities in Everett. According to the suit, Boeing did so to retaliate for past strikes and chill future strike activity, adding that company officials had made coercive statements to unionized employees regarding their intention to move production out of the area. The Board cited internal documents demonstrating those intentions, and as well as several news interviews, specifically one by Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, who told the Seattle Times that while Washington State is his preferred location for building future airplanes, the Puget Sound region will only remain favorable if the union moderates its future wage demands and avoids strikes. When asked about Boeings reasons for picking the South Carolina location for its second assembly line, Mr. Albaugh was blunt: The overriding factor was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we are paying today, he said. It was that we cant afford to have a work stoppage every three years. And we cant afford to continue the rate of escalation of wages.
Unaffordable is an understatement. The last strike occurred in 2008 and lasted for a total of 58 days, reportedly costing Boeing more than $1.8 billion in lost revenue. In an effort to deal with the outrageous burden, Boeing sought to raise worker health care costs, take away their defined benefit pension plan, and outsource more work. This was the fourth IAM strike since 1989, and Boeing began to believe that orders for the 787 Dreamliner were being endangered by a union willing to strike every three or four years.
As a result, in 2009, Boeing bought the former Vought aerospace manufacturing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina. Before Boeing announced its North Charleston plant, it attempted one more round of negotiation with the IAM, during which the union offered the company an unprecedented 11-year agreement to maintain the labor stability the company had requested. Yet union demands in return were far too extensive, as revealed in a statement released by the company after talks broke down:
Boeing had hoped to secure a long-term agreement with a no-strike clause that would ensure production stability for its customers and be cost competitive for the future. In exchange, however, the IAM insisted upon terms unacceptable to Boeing, including a guarantee that Boeing would place all future commercial airplane production in Puget Sound, and a promise from the company to remain neutral in all IAM union organizing campaigns nationwide. When an agreement with IAM leaders could not be reached, Boeing opted to build the new facility in North Charleston.
Not mentioned in this release is the fact that the union had also demanded a seat on Boeings board.
Boeing then signed an agreement with South Carolina, which included $900 million in incentives and tax relief to sweeten the deal. IAMAW Vice President Rich Michalski was critical of the deal. Boeings current management needs to rethink its strategy of repeatedly alienating its most valuable asset: the highly-skilled workers who build Boeing aircraft, he said. We will not allow our members to be made scapegoats for any purpose.
Yet shortly after the North Charleston purchase, workers at that plant voted to decertify the IAM as their representative. We are pleased that hourly workers elected to deal directly with the company on employment matters, Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said. We are also pleased that Boeing Charleston can move forward and meet commitments on the 787 program. As a result of the vote, IAM filed a lawsuit against South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for taking sides against them, claiming she was violating US labor laws and the Constitution by siding with Boeing. Gov Haley placed her hand on a bible and swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, said IAM Southern Territory Vice-President Bob Martinez. [B]ut her stated intention is to actively oppose workers in South Carolina who wish to exercise their legal right to join a union. Mr. Martinez apparently failed to note that the workers at North Charleston did exercise their legal right i.e. not to join a union as represented by a lopsided 199-68 margin in the vote for decertification.
Boeing also contends that it has the right both under federal law and its current collective bargaining agreement with the IAMAW to build additional plants in other areas. (Ordinarily the decision where to locate a work unit would be an integral part of the negotiations, but the IAM waived its right to bargain on the issue.) The company also pointed out that none of the production jobs created in South Carolina has come at the expense of jobs in Puget Sound, and that not a single union member has been adversely affected. Furthermore, Boeing noted that IAM[AW] employment in Puget Sound has increased by approximately 2,000 workers [emphasis added] since the decision to expand in South Carolina was made in October 2009. Given this reality, the NLRBs charge of retaliation by Boeing against the IAMAW is rather remarkable. More importantly, three Supreme Court rulings, Darlington Mills, American Ship Building and NLRB vs Brown undermine various parts of the NLRBs reasoning.
Yet the NLRB remained undeterred. Its complaint cited the aforementioned interview by Albaugh, and internal communications among company officials and managers all of which the NLRB characterized as interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed [by the National Labor Relations Act] as the proverbial smoking guns leading to the operations transfer.
The timing of the suit, Boeing contends, is also questionable. The NLRB waited for nearly a year and half to file, even as Boeings decision to expand in South Carolina was announced in October 2009. Currently, construction on the North Charleston plant is nearly complete, costing Boeing millions, and the company has hired 1,000 workers to begin assembly of up three jets per month at the new facility by 2013, with construction on the first plane scheduled to begin this July.
The reasoning behind NLRBs delay is not difficult to understand: Prior to March 2010, the board consisted of only two members, one Democrat and one Republican, who were forced to set aside hundred of cases because they were unable come to agreements. The president put two Democrats, Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, on the board via recess appointments, giving Democrats a 3-1 majority, which they currently maintain. Thus, the board has adopted a far more union-friendly approach, which might explain why it took thirteen months to file suit, even as it was clear Boeing was spending time and money preparing its South Carolina facility.
Both Republican senators from South Carolina are furious. This is nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obamas re-election campaign, said Senator Jim DeMint. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of hundreds of jobs in South Carolina and thousands of jobs nationwide. There is no doubt that if the National Labor Relations Boards claim against Boeing moves forward, it will have a chilling effect on job growth in my state and in right-to-work states across the country. Using the federal government as a political weapon to protect union bosses at the expense of American jobs cannot be tolerated. I intend to use every tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to stop the President from carrying out this malicious act.
Senator Lindsey Graham echoed that sentiment: This is one of the worst examples of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that Ive ever seen, Graham said in a statement. In this case, the NLRB is doing the bidding of the unions at great cost to South Carolina and our nations economy.
Governor Nikki Haley was also incensed: This is an absolute assault on a great corporate citizen and on South Carolinas right-to-work status. We will continue to do everything we can to protect that status, and to stand with companies like Boeing who understand what it means to take care of their employees without the interference of a meddlesome, self-serving union. This bullying will not be tolerated in South Carolina, she warned.
The NLRBs fallback position is that its lawsuit is limited to the production of the 787 Dreamliner, and that Boeing will be permitted to manufacture any other type of plane at the North Charleston site. Were not telling them what to do with it, said Nancy Cleeland, a spokeswoman with the labor board.
Ms. Cleeland is technically correct. The NLRB is telling Boeing what they cant do in North Charleston. More to the point, like government-granted waivers for ObamaCare, it would appear this administration, via its appointees on the Labor Board, is once again attempting to pick winners, aka unionized workers in Washington State, and losers, aka non-unionized workers in South Carolina. Thus, the June 14th hearing in Seattle promises to be a very contentious fight between management and labor as well as highlighting the seemingly unprecedented scope of the federal governments power to dictate terms between the two. It was a point driven home by Hot Airs Ed Morrisey:
Ive heard plenty of people dismiss Atlas Shrugged (the book as well as the movie) as overwrought, contrived paranoia about the regulatory state [N]o one is marching into manufacturers in the US and telling the Hank Reardons of the world what they can build and where.
At least not until June 14th.
The eventual GOP candidate should promise to withdraw this lawsuit (if he/she has a backbone.)
That will happen when the GOP candidates tell voters in Iowa that they are against gov subsidized ethanol.
As the author mentions - welcome to Atlas Shrugged America.
Germany in the 1930’s, now available in purple.
I asked a buddy of mine that worked at American Airlines about the necessity of joining the union in a unionized industry while working in a Right to Work state.
His response was something along the lines of “No you don’t have to but your tires don’t have to have any air in them when you come out to go home.”
Their communist chairman and the rest of their heavily-leftist board have cozied up to the Zero's administration since day one.
Guess there's no honor among thieves, eh? So much for all of those bundled contributions from Washington state leftist employees, not to mention agreeing to chair the President's Export Council, which operates as an advisory committee on international trade.
I hope his Union thugs go after Dan Rooney and sorry his NFL owners just for Danny boy.
In addition to reading Animal Farm and 1984 please read the below book:
It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical American political novel by Sinclair Lewis published in 1935 by Doubleday, Doran. It describes the rise of a populist politician who calls his movement “patriotic” and creates his own militia (the Minute Men or “MM”, paralleling Hitler’s “SS” ) and takes unconstitutional power after winning election - mirroring what Hitler was doing in Germany at the time of writing.
The Obama Administration is doing much more than this to support his union supporters in Washington State. There's also the issue with the KC-45 Air Force Tanker. The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) partnered with Northrop Grumman to win the KC-45 contract in 2008. EADS planed to build the tanker and other EADS aircraft in Mobile, AL.
Spiegel Online, By Dinah Deckstein, Cordula Meyer and Gabor Steingart, 03/10/2008
The forerunner of the trans-Atlantic shift is the EADS research and development center in Mobile, Alabama. Roughly 90 US engineers are already engaged in research for the European plane maker. The current plans call for the tanker version of Airbus's successful A330 model to be assembled in Mobile, where Northrop Grumman, the company's US joint venture partner, will install the electronic systems. But the plans go even further than that.In late January, not long before the US Department of Defense awarded the contract to EADS, Airbus CEO Thomas Enders paid a visit to Alabama to lay additional bait. Should the Airbus and Northrop Grumman joint venture win the Air Force contract, he said, Airbus would also assemble cargo versions of the A330 in Mobile in the future.But this doesn't necessarily mean that Airbus will stop there. Once production has gotten successfully underway in Mobile, this provincial city could conceivably become Airbus' fourth-largest assembly site for passenger aircraft, next to Hamburg, Toulouse and Tianjin, China. "There are no such plans at present," says and EADS spokesman. Not yet, that is.
Obama canceled that contract as soon as he was in office. That screwed Mobile, AL out of a lot of jobs. Earlier this year, the KC-45 contract was awarded to Boeing (Washington State).
By AUBREY COHEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF, February 23, 2011
Boeing won the U.S. Air Force's $35 billion contract to build 179 aerial refueling tankers, Pentagon and Air Force officials announced Thursday.
The award starts with a $3.5 billion contract for tanker engineering and manufacturing development to deliver the first 18 of what are now called "KC-46A" tankers by 2017.
Boeing's 767-based NewGen Tanker competed against EADS North America's Airbus A330-based KC-45 tanker in the Air Force's third try at starting to replace Eisenhower-era Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.
Northrop Grumman pulled out of the latest contest, saying the Air Force's criteria favored Boeing's smaller plane. But EADS North America said it could offer a better price, despite the size difference, because it no longer had Northrop's need for profit, Airbus is producing A330s at a higher rate than Boeing is building 767s, lowering costs, and existing A330-based tankers and refueling systems are closer to KC-45 than existing 767-based tankers and systems are to NewGen, meaning less development risk.
Analysts gave EADS the edge in recent weeks, after release of battlefield assessments of the two tankers reportedly showed a big advantage for the KC-45. The Air Force sent the assessments to both bidders accidentally, at first, and then shared the data again after learning that an EADS employee inadvertently looked at the Boeing information.
Then Boeing announced the plans for the Charleston, SC plant. Boeing planned to produce several products in SC. This was followed by the NLRB ruling.
Charleston Regional Business Journal, By Matt Tomsic, April 25, 2011
The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint Wednesday, calling for Boeing to open a second 787 final assembly line in Washington state to remedy what it calls an illegal transfer of work to non-union facilities in North Charleston.
Boeing is building a multi-million dollar facility near Charleston International Airport to complement its first final assembly line in the Seattle area.
The board is pursuing an order to require Boeing to maintain a second assembly line in Washington state, though the complaint does not ask for the line in South Carolina to be closed, according to a news release from the NLRB.
This is one of the worst examples of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that Ive ever seen, Graham said in a statement emailed from his office. In this case, the (National Labor Relations Board) is doing the bidding of the unions at great cost to South Carolina and our nations economy.
The plot gets thicker! Obama has been making recess appointment to the NLRB which he knows will not be confirmed by the Senate!!
The Daily Caller, By Katie Gage, Published: 6:07 PM 09/16/2010
The Obama administration inserted former American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) attorney Craig Becker into the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after Beck was rejected by the US Senate. Considering that he has refused to recuse himself on decisions the NLRB makes affecting his former employers and Big Labor friends, Beckers credibility is in serious question, while his bias is not.
Secondly, in a recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Obama administration claimed that organizing a union in America is difficult and that that difficulty constitutes a human rights offense. The audacity of this claim is bad enough, but for our own government to make it on an international level is a perfect example of the great lengths to which the president will go to draw attention to Big Labors demands.
Obama is screwing the 'Right To Work' Red State South!! With an 'In you face' attitude, he is pulling every stunt in the book to support his union buddies!
And this story is not getting near enough coverage in the media!
Obama may have attacked the wrong industrial giant here.
Boeing is very savvy politically. Yes, they work both parties to gain favor and win contracts.
However, Obama is weaker politically right now. Boeing has enormous resources to use against Obama and other dims.
In short, Obama may have won some points with his union buds while seriously enraging Boeing and other large companies.
They thought they could “buy” Obama, but he does not stay BOUGHT!
Understand your skepticism but you should really look at this problem from the companies viewpoint. They have to constantly change depending upon which political party is in power - just to manufacture a few airplanes. They are just trying to survive the political landscape.
So...they grease both sides trying to stay in business. Yes, they make a lot of money and yes they employ a lot of people. Now just what do you want them to do?
They are a good and profitable business - you should be thanking them for that. They provide thousands of profitable jobs with better than normal benefits.
Not really sure why anyone would criticize them other than to plead for non-political operation - me too!...
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