By: Gregory L. Shelton
As South Carolina prepares for Boeing’s arrival, the National Labor Relations Board’s acting general counsel has other plans for the company. Upon the request of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, the general counsel filed a complaint against Boeing asserting that Boeing’s decision to open the plant in South Carolina violates the National Labor Relations Act. The general counsel, who under the NLRA acts as a prosecutor, will try to convince the five member NLRB that Boeing’s decision violates the amorphous prohibitions against interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in participating in their union activities (i.e. striking) and discriminating “in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.”
In his complaint against Boeing, the general counsel seeks an order requiring Boeing to open the second production line in union-friendly Washington state. South Carolina, by contrast, is a right to work state. The idea of a government administrative body managing a company’s expansion plans may seem outlandish, but the current NLRB is union friendly, and the make-up of the NLRB has been viewed by the current and previous administrations in stark political terms.
An NLRB administrative law judge will hear the case in Seattle on June 14. The decision of the administrative law judge may be appealed to the NLRB in Washington D.C. The NLRB’s decision may be further appealed to a federal court of appeals and then to the federal Supreme Court.
I wish I could tell you how this battle will end, but we live in strange times.
(Note: The South Carolina Department of Commerce provides contact information to subcontractors or suppliers seeking business from the construction of Boeing’s second 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston. The construction work is nearing completion).
Photo courtesy of Charleston Daily Photo.