The NLRB and Boeing: The Battle Reaches Congress

Contributed by Larry Smith

In addition to dealing with the debt crisis, Congress has before it House Bill H.R. 2587, the “Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act.” This bill is a response to the National Labor Relations Board complaint filed against Boeing. As you know, this NLRB action attempts to block Boeing from opening a plant in South Carolina as opposed to expanding its operations in the state of Washington. Of course, Boeing’s operations in Washington are unionized and South Carolina presents Boeing with the opportunity to employ a non-union workforce. 

The NLRB’s complaint against Boeing has very wide reaching ramifications. Not only is it easily perceived as an invasion of the corporate governance function, but it may also lead to companies considering foreign locations for plant facilities as opposed to “made in America” locations. 

The text of the bill is as follows: 

H.R. 2587 

Section 10(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 160) is amended by inserting before the period at the end of the following: “Provided further, that the Board shall have no power to order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment, to rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or employer who shall be engaged in production or other business operations, or to require any employer to make an initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility or location.” 

The amendment made by section 2 shall apply to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the National Labor Relations Board has not been made by the date of enactment of this Act.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Scott and Gowdy from South Carolina. 

In the political framework that is Washington, D.C., it remains to be seen if and when this bill will reach the House of Representatives’ floor. It has been passed out of committee. Of course, the remaining question is; what are the odds the Senate will pass this bill? It does, however, reflect a considerable backlash against the NLRB complaint against Boeing. That sentiment is more pervasive than just in the state of South Carolina, the proposed site of the Boeing plant. 

As of July 28th, there is still an ongoing battle between NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about NLRB’s failure to comply with a July 26th deadline to respond to a subpoena from the Committee to NLRB. Needless to say, the Republicans and the Democrats on the committee have argued about the boundaries of the subpoena. The response by the NLRB to date has not shown the reasoning behind the decision to file the complaint against Boeing.