“For many years, Boeing employees in the State of Washington have worked through their union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, to improve their work lives at the company -- all while helping Boeing prosper by building the best commercial airliners in the world. Equally undisputed is that such activity was protected by law. So when Boeing itself announced that legally protected activities of its workers were the principal reason for moving a substantial portion of the company's 787 Dreamliner assembly to South Carolina, the company committed unlawful retaliation. The case is that simple.”
The case is indeed a simple one, so it is dumbfounding that Mr. Corson and other Big Labor freebooters could turn it into such a crooked, preposterous, relentlessly profiteering ploy.
Every few years, it seems, Boeing has had to cope with the strike-happy unionized machinists ‘negotiating’ for things like cost-of-living raises, signing bonuses, and expanded benefits and pension plans. These work stoppages are difficult for any company that manufactures expensive capital goods, and Boeing inevitably must give in to the unions’ unilateral corporate piracy and escalate its workers’ wages.
So, with a backlog of orders for its Dreamliner 787 in hand, the Boeing management’s thought process back in 2009 probably went something like this: “We want to build a new assembly line. If we build it in our traditional home of Washington state, we are likely to have to deal with strikes at some point, which will damage Boeing’s financial health. But, because of America’s wonderful system of federalism, we could build this new assembly line in a different state like, say, South Carolina (a right-to-work state). There, we can operate more efficiently, profitably, and productively.”
Just to be clear, Boeing is not shutting down any of its plants in Washington State – in fact, Boeing has hired another 2,000 workers in the Puget Sound area since that time, more than twice as many than there would be employed in the South Carolina facility.
But a business’s prerogative to actually make money, create productive jobs, and contribute to economic growth just does not sit well with some people. The National Labor Relations board is suing Boeing, claiming that building a brand new facility elsewhere amounts to Boeing “retaliating” against its workers for past strikes. The NLRB is seeking a court injunction that would force Boeing to build all of its 787s in Washington State, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is positively gleeful about it.
There are definitely laws in place to protect workers from being punished for striking (a.k.a., Boeing cannot fire individuals for participating in strikes), but apparently making sound business decisions is now outside the law as well. Most of the absurd uproar has come from the fact that Boeing management has cited the strikes as a reason for building in a new location – well, obviously! If a company has experienced damaging strikes in the past and sees an opportunity to avoid them in the future, it will do so. It is not a question of punishing anybody.
Boeing has already started construction in South Carolina and, if forced to scuttle those plans, would suffer major setbacks and move jobs that South Carolina dearly wants. In the Wall Street Journal on April 29, S.C. Governor Nikki Haley wrote:
“In choosing to manufacture in my state, Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company… This a win-win for South Carolina, for Boeing, and for the global clients who will see Dreamliners rolling off the North Charleston line at the rate of 10 a month.”
Far from admitting that this is a direct union assault upon right-to-work states and big businesses, pro-labor puppets parrot the notion that Boeing broke the law. According to Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, in the Seattle Times:
“Were Boeing's actions to go unchecked, companies would be free to coerce and intimidate workers, their unions and states into deals that primarily profit the company. This would make a mockery of the fundamental human right of workers to stand together in order to balance out the power of corporations. Yet instead of simply having its day in court, Boeing is trying to use its tremendous political clout to stop the actions of this independent federal law-enforcement agency.”
That’s right – Jeff Johnson is accusing Boeing of making decisions that primarily profit the company. And, of course, we all obviously know that unions are completely bereft of any such tremendous political clout, and that the Democratic administration has absolutely nothing to do with this. Mr. Johnson is spinning a tale of unions as merely innocent, communal, agenda-free lambs threatened with slaughter by evil, greedy CEOs.
Last week, nineteen Senate Republicans sent a letter to President Obama, warning that they would “vigorously oppose” his pending nominations to the National Labor Relations Board in light of the standing complaint against Boeing: “America will not win the future if Washington penalizes workers in states that have discovered winning economic strategies,” they wrote.
This entire situation is despicable, and provides yet another example of the type of business-hating, entitlement-frenzied collective mentality that has our economy down in the dumps and threatens to keep it there. The hearing is expected for June 14th in Seattle, Washington.