NLRB hands Republicans an good issue in a bad economy

The Obama Administration has handed Republicans a gift thanks to the National Labor Relations Board going after Boeing, the Chicago-based aircraft manufacterer.

For those of you unfamiliar with this story, here is what is going on. Boeing, citing future labor costs and production disruptions due to strikes, decided to build a new plant in South Carolina, a right to work state, instead of at an existing plant in Washington. The local chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully sought help from the NLRB, which is now suing Boeing to prevent the opening of the new plant, possibly killing new jobs in the process.

Meanwhile, Boeing is warning that this action by the NLRB could have very real consequences:

If it succeeds, a suit by the National Labor Relations Board seeking to block Boeing from building airplanes in a non-union facility in South Carolina will set a precedent that could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, the company’s vice president and general counsel Michael Lutting said at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Most directly, if Boeing is forced to shut down its new factory, it would kill thousands of jobs in South Carolina. But it would also have wider-ranging effects, Luttig argued in testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Applied across the economy, Luttig said, it means that many companies that have production lines in unionized states won’t be able to build additional facilities in right-to-work states. And on the flip side, companies won’t want to open new factories in unionized states, because they’ll be worried that they’ll be limited in where they can expand in the future. Still other companies, Luttig said, would locate overseas.

As you can imagine, politicians from South Carolina are outraged and Republicans are now making this a priority in Congress, and they may even be able to win bipartisan support given that a few Democrats still have seats in the South:

The legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act, which governs labor-management relations and created the NLRB. The proposal has not been formally introduced. The lawmakers are still working on the details, the aide said.

“We’ve got to pass this bill to stop this administration from bullying American workers,” DeMint said in an email to IBD. “Businesses have the right to invest in any state in America and states shouldn’t be penalized for protecting the rights of their citizens not to be forced to pay union dues.”

The bill would likely have bipartisan support if framed as an effort to protect the 22 mostly Southern states with right-to-work laws. Ten Senate Democrats represent those states.

The NLRB is really grasping at straws here. Boeing is not transferring work from one plant to the other, these are new jobs being created through expansion. In fact, they’ve added jobs at the Washington plant since announcing their intent to build in South Carolina.

Giving unions and the NLRB this sort of power over businesses to make decisions in their best interest is insanity.

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