Labor allies are defending the White House from attacks by South Carolina Gov. NIkki Haley (R) and other Republican lawmakers over a union dispute with Boeing, accusing them of interfering with an independent federal agency.
At the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Haley and other Republicans called on President Obama to condemn the independent National Labor Relations Board, which is tasked with enforcing labor laws, for suing Boeing over a production line in South Carolina that it says constitutes illegal retaliation against unionized Boeing workers in Washington State. Obama has no direct control over the agency, but does choose its members, and Republicans have sought to block appointments they consider too pro-labor.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued a statement accusing the GOP of an “overly dramatic response” to a “routine unfair labor practice charge.” He added that it was unfair to target the White House when it has no say in the NLRB’s lawsuit.
“That’s what this all comes down to: powerful corporate interests are pressuring public officials to interfere with an independent agency, rather than let justice run its course,” Harkin said. “And we should not tolerate this interference. Instead, we should turn our attention back to the issues that really matter to American families – how we can create jobs in Washington, South Carolina, Iowa, and across the country?”
(click here to continue reading Union Advocates Accuse GOP Of Interfering With Independent Labor Agency | TPMDC.)
And a little back-story on the dispute:
An ugly spat between a huge corporation, organized labor, the White House, and a Tea Party governor whose union-busting rhetoric would make Chris Christie blush, is becoming the next national flashpoint in this year’s ongoing war on unions.
The dispute centers around a planned Boeing airplane production line for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina using nonunion labor. The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint earlier this month looking to halt operation of the new plant after members of the International Association of Machinists at Boeing’s Washington state production line claimed the decision to expand outside the state was retaliation for previous strikes. The NLRB is demanding that Boeing open a second production line in labor-friendly Washington state.
Boeing responded that because the corporation is not closing its Puget Sound plant, the retaliation claims are “legally frivolous.” Boeing recently issued a further statement claiming it would have opened its South Carolina line regardless of labor conditions in Washington state. The case will come before an administrative law judge in June and Boeing can appeal that decision in federal court if it doesn’t go its way.
Given that the NLRB languished under the Bush administration — at one point the AFL-CIO called for it to be shut down — the NLRB’s complaint represented a coming out party of sorts for the revamped agency.
(click here to continue reading South Carolina Emerges As Next Labor Flashpoint In Boeing Dispute | TPMDC.)