Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Laboring To Defend The Indefensible

In my days a commentator, I've written a lot about overreaching government. But right now I'm hard pressed to think of any recent example of government tyranny that exceeds what the National Labor Relations Board is doing to Boeing.

The NLRB has filed a complaint against Boeing alleging the company has engaged in illegal retaliation against its labor unions in the state of Washington by electing to locate a new non-union plant in South Carolina. Now, one would think that illegal retaliation would have to take the form of punishing union workers already on the payroll or closing an existing plant, firing its workers and relocating it out of reach of the unions (federal law rightly prohibits management from punishing workers for striking).

The plants in Washington have been plagued by strikes, so in needing to build a new fleet of 787 Dreamliners, Boeing elected to locate a second Dreamliner plant in a right-to-work state where the risk of labor disruptions is minimal. In its public statements, the company was quite candid about its motives.

In taking this action, Boeing did not cut one job from its unionized work force in Washington. Instead, thousands of additional jobs will come to Charleston. And this constitutes "punishment" against union workers on the West Coast?

Perhaps the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers would prefer that Boeing moved those jobs to Mexico? Truth be told, the union doesn't care where the new plant is located if its workers aren't dues-paying.

And we wonder why so many U.S. corporations are opening plants in China and India. Oh, I forgot. Boeing has already done some of that. Heavy industry is already dying in this country; if the NLRB keeps this up, the final nail will be poised to enter the coffin.

What does President Obama think about all this? He won't say, preferring, his spokesman Jay Carney said, to remain neutral in labor disputes. As Col. Potter would say, "Horse hockey!" Obama had no problem wading into the intense struggle in Wisconsin between public employee labor unions and Gov. Scott Walker.

"This is neither good law nor good business," the Washington Post thundered in an editorial. Amen.

Democrats used to insist, with some justification, that the Bush administration routinely politicized the Justice Department. Now the Obama administration, which sailed into Washington on the support of organized labor, is doing the same thing with the NLRB. Shame on him.

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