Late last month, the National Labor Relations Board announced that it was filing a complaint against Boeing, alleging that the airline manufacturer decided to move a planned production line from Washington state to South Carolina as retribution against workers in Washington striking. As evidence, they pointed to public pronouncements from Boeing officials, including one who said, “the overriding factor [in moving to South Carolina] was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we’re paying today. It was that we cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years.”
It is a violation of national labor law to retaliate against workers for striking, so the NLRB advanced its complaint. This has whipped the right wing into an uproar, and several Republican senators took to the floor today to deride the NLRB for “acting like thugs that you might see in a third world country”:
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): The administration, I believe, is acting like thugs that you might see in a third-world country, trying to bully and intimidate employers…This is crazy.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This complaint is dangerous. This complaint is a dangerous road to go down. This complaint is politics at its worst…The Congress should speak, the administration should speak out and say ‘this is frivolous.’
Watch a compilation:
Ten other Republican Senators sent a letter today to the NLRB taking issue with its decision to protect workers from union-busting.
But let’s review what happened. As labor journalist Mike Elk explained, “in 2007, Boeing announced it would create a second production line to produce three 787 Dreamliner planes a month in the Pudget Sound, in addition to the production that was already occurring in Pudget Sound. Then in October 2009, it was announced that suddenly the company would move the second production line to a nonunion plant in South Carolina.” And the company’s officials made it clear that the move was made because workers in Washington had decided to strike, which, whether Republicans like it or not, is illegal.
As the Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein wrote, “given the public statements of Boeing officials, there is nothing radical about the NLRB’s decision.” But Republicans have decided to attack anyway, revealing once more how they believe corporate America should be allowed to do whatever it wants, no matter the law.