NLRB ignores Congressional Subpoena regarding Boeing

 

by Jack Minor  —

The head of a House Committee said the National Labor Relations Board’s failure to comply with a subpoena raises concerns the organization is a “rogue agency.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a subpoena compelling the NLRB to produce documents the committee had requested in May. The documents relate to NLRB actions against aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

“NLRB’s action in the case against Boeing has the potential to create a job-killing precedent just as U.S. manufacturers are working toward economic recovery.  That a Washington, D.C.-based bureaucracy could dictate the work location and parameters for a world-leading company is unprecedented in a global economy and hobbles a leading American job creator at a time of economic vulnerability.” Issa said.

Chairman Issa added, “President Obama and both Democratic and Republican Members of Congress have questioned the wisdom behind NLRB’s actions against Boeing. As this matter could take years to resolve and create even more crippling uncertainty for job creators, it is imperative that Congress get complete facts about NLRB’s rational and its decision making process in this matter without further delay.”

The committee asked for all documents in the custody and control of the Office of the General Counsel or the NLRB referring or relating to Boeing and the International Association of Machinists including all e-mails and call logs.

Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel responded to the subpoena saying they had already turned over multiple documents to the committee. “To date, this office has provided the Committee with more than 1500 pages of documents that should provide sufficient information to allow the Committee to assess the legal merit of the Boeing complaint.”

Issa issued a statement regarding the NLRB’s failure to comply with the subpoena. “The National Labor Relations Board and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon have thus far failed to comply with a lawful subpoena.  This refusal by NLRB to abide by the law further heightens concerns that this is a rogue agency acting improperly.  The integrity of NLRB and its leadership is clearly in question.”

Issa continued “The public has a right to know the truth about why a government agency would choose to take action to benefit organized labor that threatens thousands of non-union jobs in South Carolina while setting a precedent impacting manufacturers across the country.” 

Issa subsequently sent a letter to Solomon advising him there would be consequences for not complying with the subpoena. “As you know, a congressional subpoena requires full and complete compliance,” Issa wrote.  “Accordingly, a witness or agency subject to a congressional subpoena may not decline to honor the subpoena on the grounds that a lawsuit is pending.” Chairman Issa added, “I trust you stand ready to accept the severe consequences of your decision to avoid compliance with the subpoena.”

The issue revolves around the NLRB accusing Boeing of engaging in an unfair labor practice for wanting to build a new plant in South Carolina, a right to work state. Boeing, which is headquartered in Chicago, has a plant in Seattle, Washington.

The company is building the new plant to assist in the manufacture of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The majority of Dreamliner orders would still be built in Washington, with the new plant in South Carolina only building 30 percent of the new aircraft. Boeing has said the South Carolina plant will not cost any new jobs at the Seattle assembly plant, which will actually be adding jobs for the Dreamliner.

 Union leaders say that is unacceptable and wants all of the aircraft built in Washington. The complaint goes on to say that moving work to South Carolina amounted to “coercing” members at the Seattle plant and was resulting in “discrimination” of union workers in Washington.

While trying to force the closure of the plant in South Carolina, local representatives of IAM have also been attempting to organize workers at the new plant. South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy told the Daily Caller it was “bitterly ironic” that union officials would try to organize the same workers that Seattle members are trying to put out of work.

“The same general entity, that being big labor, which is threatening the economic death penalty on the Boeing plant, which would mothball it and discharge the 1,000 employees, now wants to rush to their defense,” Gowdy said.

The NLRB action against Boeing is one of several recent controversial moves. Recently the NLRB proposed shortening the time between a formal call for a vote by workers to form a union and the election. Currently labor elections typically take place between 45-60 days after the union gathers enough signatures for an organizing petition.

The purpose for the window is to allow employers to communicate and explain to employees the ramifications of collective bargaining. The NLRB wants to shorten this window to between 10 and 21 days. This would give employees less time to consider all of the issues.

The Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s largest public policy research organizations, reports that the NLRB also plans to allow unions to organize multiple micro unions within companies instead of one larger unit. The Labor department has also announced regulations that would require extensive disclosures about consultants that advise employers during organizing drives.

Heritage says the rules would decrease the time for elections by delaying most administrative issues until after the election. The rules would also require employers to file any challenges to the board’s procedures within seven days or loose the right to do so.

These snap elections would reduce the time employers have to make their case. Heritage says workers will base their decisions primarily on information received from the union.


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  • patrick says:

    Good ol Daryl Issa, man of the people, er, I mean Bankers. Here’s a nice must read story on one of his appointees
    http://exiledonline.com/war-nerd-dc-update-transylvania-goes-to-dc-and-lies-its-head-off/

  • Jim Kennedy says:

    Solomon has the better argument. Plus, he has, to his professional credit, refrained from pointing out that interfering with NLRB proceedings is actually a criminal act under Sec. 12 of the NLRA. Not saying Issa is behaving criminally, but when Congress passed the criminal statute it set parameters which Issa does not acknowledge. There is never (or almost never) any reason for an oversight committee to do its job so hastily as to interfere with and affect the very job it is investigating. Issa cannot know (nor does Solomon) whether the judge or, later, the 5-member Board will actually issue an order affecting Boeing’s right to build 787’s in North Charleston. Nevertheless, Issa is trying to put his thumb on the scale, trying to intimidate the Board from even considering that remedy. If that’s not direct interference with the Board’s processes, I don’t know what would be. Certainly he is running afoul of the Congressional policy set by Sec. 12–“willfully…prevent[ing], imped[ing]. or interfer[ing] with any member of the Board or any of its agents in the performance of [their] duties pursuant to [the] Act.”

    Issa’s haste and heavy-handedness in his oversight behavior illuminates his bias. Just because Solomon has proposed the remedy does not mean it will be granted. Solomon, in proposing it, is casting about for a remedy for conduct Boeing has essentially admitted it committed. Lesser remedies may work even better. Issa cannot have oversight until he knows what the Board actually has done, and that may take a year or two, since the Board is still in the factual development stage of the case. Issa is too premature to be credited with an honest purpose.

    The Washington Post agrees: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/overreach-on-oversight/2011/08/17/gIQA5397UJ_story.html

    As for the microunions, the Heritage Foundation’s assertion cited in the article should be questioned for a reliable source. As one who is familiar with the concept of appropriate bargaining units, I can confidently say that microunions within a bargaining unit are impermissible under the Labor Act. It would take a statutory amendment to allow for such a thing.

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