While it is very good news that the National Labor Relations Board may be dropping its complaint against Boeing—permitting the giant aircraft builder to create jobs with impunity in South Carolina, a right-to-work state—let’s just review a few matters before we try to forget the sorry affair.
The NRLB, which is supposed to be a neutral agency, but which has become even more aggressive under the Obama administration, tried to prevent Boeing from building the South Carolina plant, claiming that the manufacturer was doing so in retaliation for union demands in Washington state.
But now Boeing and the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers—the union to which the Washington state Boeing workers belong—are on the verge of an agreement for a new four-year contract.
Most likely, this is the end of the NRLB’s complaint against Boeing—just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign. The NRLB’s opposition to a plant that creates jobs was becoming a tad embarrassing for the Obama administration.
So is this a case of all’s well that ends well?
James Sherk, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, says it is:
This is a victory for conservatives. The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) attempt to dictate where businesses invest has failed.
The IAM is spinning this as a victory, claiming that in exchange Boeing will build their new 737 Max planes in Washington State. However, if Boeing did want to build their 737 plant elsewhere, the promise of dropping charges would not be nearly enough to change their mind.
This outcome, Sherk notes, allows the union and the administration “to back down without formally admitting they made a mistake.”
Politico reports that some South Carolina Republicans are skeptical:
Sen. Lindsey Graham said a deal that would result in NLRB dropping the grievance “would certainly be welcome,” but he was wary of the NLRB’s role in the Washington negotiations.
“If the NLRB is becoming an extension of negotiation, and they’ve become a tool or device to be used by unions to make business do what they would like, that’s a disastrous outcome,” he told POLITICO. “It would be terrible if the NLRB has become a hammer in negotiating.”
It will be good news indeed if the complaint is dropped. Businesses have the right to set up shop wherever they please. But I am not sure this outcome, welcome as it is, made that point strongly enough.
Don’t stop talking about what the NRLB tried to do to workers in South Carolina at a time when the country desperately needs new jobs.