WSJ Misleads On NLRB's Complaint Against Boeing

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

The Wall Street Journal claimed that the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) complaint against Boeing attempts to "prevent [Boeing] from building a new plant in South Carolina" and "attempts to punish workers merely because their states passed right-to-work laws." However, the NLRB is explicitly not attempting to prevent Boeing from moving to South Carolina, only preventing Boeing from making discriminatory business decisions.

WSJ Misleadingly Claims NLRB Sued To Keep Boeing From Building A Plant In South Carolina

WSJ: "The NLRB Sued [Boeing] In April To Prevent It From Building A New Plant In South Carolina." In a July 28 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that the NLRB "sued [Boeing] in April to prevent it from building a new plant in South Carolina" and that "[t]he NLRB's campaign against Boeing ... is a government attempt to restrict the free movement of capital. It attempts to punish workers merely because their states passed right-to-work laws." From The Wall Street Journal:

Teenagers in the 1960s listened to Beatles records backwards in search of hidden meanings -- a trick akin to the task of deciphering President Obama's statements on the battle between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board. Since the NLRB sued the airplane company in April to prevent it from building a new plant in South Carolina, Mr. Obama's position has alternated between silent and incomprehensible.

[...]

The NLRB's campaign against Boeing has captured political attention -- and created business anxiety -- because it is a government attempt to restrict the free movement of capital. It attempts to punish workers merely because their states passed right-to-work laws. [The Wall Street Journal, 7/28/11]

But NLRB General Counsel's Complaint Only Aims To Prevent Boeing From Making Discriminatory Decisions

NLRB Complaint Specifically Says Boeing Is Free To Make "Non-Discriminatory Decisions" About "Where Work Will Be Performed." Contrary to the Journal's claims that the NLRB complaint is an attempt to "prevent [Boeing] from building a new plant in South Carolina" and an "attempt to restrict the free movement of capital," the complaint states that it "does not seek to prohibit [Boeing]" from having work performed in South Carolina or anywhere else as long as Boeing does not violate labor laws in making such decisions. From paragraph 13 of the complaint:

(a) As part of the remedy for the unfair labor practices alleged above in paragraphs 7 and 8, the Acting General Counsel seeks an Order requiring Respondent to have the Unit operate its second line of 787 Dreamliner aircraft assembly production in the State of Washington, utilizing supply lines maintained by the Unit in the Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, area facilities.

(b) Other than as set forth in paragraph 13(a) above, the relief requested by the Acting General Counsel does not seek to prohibit Respondent from making non-discriminatory decisions with respect to where work will be performed, including non-discriminatory decisions with respect to work at its North Charleston, South Carolina, facility. [The Boeing Company NLRB general counsel's office complaint, 4/20/11]

Complaint Alleges Boeing Decided To Transfer 787 Production To SC Because Washington State Employees "Engag[ed] In ... Lawful Strikes." From paragraph 7 of the complaint:

(a) In or about October 2009, on a date better known to Respondent, but no later than October 28, 2009, Respondent decided to transfer its second 787 Dreamliner production line of 3 planes per month from the Unit to its non-union site in North Charleston, South Carolina.

(b) Respondent engaged in the conduct described above in paragraph 7(a) because the Unit employees assisted and/or supported the Union by, inter alia, engaging in the protected, concerted activity of lawful strikes and to discourage these and/or other employees from engaging in these or other union and/or protected, concerted activities.

(c) Respondent's conduct described above in paragraph 7(a), combined with the conduct described above in Paragraph 6, is also inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees by § 7 of the Act. [The Boeing Company NLRB general counsel's office complaint, 4/20/11]

NLRB Fact Check: "The Complaint Explicitly States That Boeing May Place Work Where It Likes." In response to a number of news outlets "erroneously report[ing]" the Boeing case, the NLRB issued the following fact check stating that "Boeing may place work where it likes" "as long as the decision is not made for discriminatory reasons." From the NLRB fact check:

Several news outlets have erroneously reported in recent days that the National Labor Relations Board has ordered the Boeing Company to close its operations in South Carolina. [...] In fact, the complaint issued on April 20 by the Acting General Counsel does not seek to have the South Carolina facility closed. It seeks to halt the transfer of a specific piece of production work due to allegations that the transfer was unlawfully motivated. The complaint explicitly states that Boeing may place work where it likes, including at its South Carolina facility, as long as the decision is not made for discriminatory reasons.

In addition, the Board has not yet considered or ruled on the allegations in the complaint. Under the NLRB's statute, the General Counsel and the Board are separate and independent, with the General Counsel functioning as prosecutor and the Board functioning as a court. The case is scheduled to be tried before an administrative law judge, acting under the Board's authority. That decision could then be appealed to the Board itself for its decision. (posted 4/26/11) [NLRB.gov, accessed 7/28/11, emphasis in original]

Posted In
Economy, Labor Unions
Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal
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