Fox's Chris Wallace Disappears Allegation That Boeing Retaliated Against Union Workers

Chris Wallace said that the National Labor Relations Board “went after Boeing for wanting to build a plant in right-to-work South Carolina.” But this description completely obscures the motivation for the NLRB's action: Its complaint against Boeing alleges that the company illegally retaliated against union workers in Washington state for going on strike.

Wallace Says NLRB “Went After” Boeing For Decision On Location Of New Plant

Wallace: NLRB “Went After Boeing For Wanting to Build A Plant In Right-To-Work South Carolina.” From Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

CHRIS WALLACE (guest host): Rich Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, announcing Big Labor's new plan to push its candidates and causes in the 2012 election.

We're back now with our panel. So, Mara, the Obama administration has taken a really strong pro-union tilt in recent weeks and months. The National Labor Relations Board, with its Democratic Obama-appointed majority, went after Boeing for wanting to build a plant in right-to-work South Carolina. Now the NLRB says employers must post notices of workers' rights in all workplaces -- their rights to organize -- even though there hasn't been any case. They're really deciding it on their own. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 8/31/11]

NLRB Actually Alleges Boeing Illegally Retaliated Against Union For Lawful Strikes

Complaint From NLRB General Counsel's Office Alleges Boeing Decided To Transfer 787 Production To SC Because Washington State Employees “Engag[ed] In ... Lawful Strikes.” From the NLRB general counsel's complaint against Boeing:

(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]

Complaint Alleges Boeing “Threatened Or Impliedly Threatened” Workers That They “Would Lose Additional Work In The Event Of Future Strikes.” From the NLRB general counsel's complaint against Boeing:

On or about the dates and by the manner noted below, Respondent [Boeing] made coercive statements to its employees that it would remove or had removed work from the Unit because employees had struck and Respondent threatened or impliedly threatened that the Unit would lose additional work in the event of future strikes. [The Boeing Company NLRB General Counsel's Office Complaint, 4/20/11]

NLRB Specifically Stated Boeing Can Build Anywhere It Wants, If Decisions Are “Non-Discriminatory”

Complaint Says Boeing Is Free To Make “Non-Discriminatory Decisions” About “Where Work Will Be Performed.” From the NLRB general counsel's complaint against Boeing:

(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]

Labor Law Experts Have Said If Allegations Are True, It Would Be “A Classic Violation” Of Labor Laws

Labor Law Professor Brudney: “Relocating Work Away From A Plant Because Of Too Much Lawful Union Activity Would Be A Classic Violation” Of Federal Labor Laws. In a telephone interview with Media Matters, James J. Brudney, the Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, said: “Relocating work away from a plant because of too much lawful union activity would be a classic violation of 8(a)(3)” of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it illegal for employers “to discriminat[e] in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.” [Phone interview with Media Matters, 5/11/11]

Labor And Employment Law Professor Fisk: If NLRB General Counsel's Complaint Is True, This Is An “Absolutely Standard Violation” Of Federal Labor Laws. In a telephone interview with Media Matters, University of California-Irvine Chancellor's Professor of Law Catherine Fisk said that if the NLRB general counsel's complaint is true, this is an “absolutely standard violation of Section 8(a)(1) [of the National Labor Relations Act], which has been in the statute since 1935 and prohibits retaliation against employees for protected activities” such as forming a union, engaging in collective bargaining, and striking. Fisk also said that she saw “nothing controversial” about the complaint. [Phone interview with Media Matters, 5/11/11]

Labor Law Professor Secunda: Complaint Against Boeing Shows The NLRB Is “Carrying Out Its Congressionally Mandated Mission To Protect The Right Of Workers To Engage In Concerted Activity.” From a Seattle Times editorial by Marquette University Law School associate professor Paul Secunda:

The National Labor Relations Act gives workers the unequivocal right to engage in concerted activity -- including the right to strike. Boeing stated publicly that it was moving production away from Washington because its workers there previously went on strike and could go on strike again in the future.

Such comments amount to an admission from the company that it was intentionally retaliating against employees and trying to limit their rights -- a clear affront to the law that the NLRB is charged with enforcing.

At the end of the day, what we are seeing is the agency carrying out its congressionally mandated mission to protect the right of workers to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection. The agency is simply enforcing the law, providing balance and fairness for workers and businesses alike. [The Seattle Times, 4/29/11]

Labor Law Professor Hirsch: Boeing Allegations Involve A “Relatively Straightforward Case Of An Employer Punishing Workers For Striking.” From a post on the Workplace Prof Blog by University of Tennessee College of Law associate professor Jeffrey Hirsch:

I've been surprised at how much attention is getting paid to the NLRB General Counsel's complaint against Boeing. Based on what I've seen, the conservative uproar to what, based on the allegations is a relatively straightforward case of an employer punishing workers for striking (with admittedly large potential economic impacts), is way out of proportion. But this editorial from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required, but if you Google the title, you can find it free) and the legislation it describes, has now entered the bizzaro stage.

As for the editorial, even taking into account the normal tenor one would expect from a WSJ editorial, I honestly don't ever remember seeing any piece of writing with so many inaccuracies. For instance, there's the title, which states that there is a Board ruling (it's just a GC complaint); the description of the remedy to shut down production in South Carolina (the GC doesn't seek that, it would just require Boeing to maintain production in Washington; and the argument that the complaint requires employers to stay in non-right-to-work states (I don't even know where to begin). Two minutes with a fact-checker would've had these cut, although that would've undermined the purpose of the editorial and its support for the legislation. [Workplace Prof Blog, 5/4/11]