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Boeing and the NLRB

On April 20, 2011, after months of investigation, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a complaint against Boeing after the company repeatedly made remarks to its employees and the media that it was moving production from its Washington state plant to South Carolina in response to workers at its Washington plant exercising their right to strike. Under the National Labor Relations Act, it is illegal to retaliate or discriminate against workers for engaging in protected activity—which includes striking. Boeing's alleged retaliation against its employees is illegal in every state, so the complaint has absolutely nothing to do with South Carolina’s "right-to-work" for less status.

The next step in this case is a trial before an Administrative Law Judge, which is scheduled for June. But right-wing politicians and pundits have launched a full-scale attack on the NLRB, accusing the agency of extreme overreach—even though the complaint falls well within the scope of the NLRB’s congressional mandate. In fact, had the agency failed to act, it would have been neglecting its duty.

Download a one-page background document. (PDF)

View a roundup of recent press. (PDF)

NLRB's Boeing Fact Sheet 

— In Case You Missed It (statements from academics and pundits on the case) (PDF)

Must Reads:

  • Rep. George Miller & Rep. Rob Andrews, Politico: "Attack on NLRB is attack on oversight," (5/26/11)

    "With millions of Americans still out of work and nearly six months into the new Congress and no jobs bill, Republicans are focusing on a partisan witch hunt against the National Labor Relations Board… While Boeing is free to locate work at any plant, including South Carolina, the law is clear that it is illegal to do so for discriminatory reasons — taking away work from some workers, union or non-union, because they exercised their rights. The law should apply to megacorporations just as it applies to small businesses and working people."
  • Chris Hayes, The Nation: "The Breakdown: Can the Government Protect Boeing's Workers?" (5/27/11)

    On this week's edition of The Breakdown, labor law expert Catherine Fisk joins DC editor Chris Hayes to discuss the circumstances in the Boeing case and counter the persistent misinformation about what the NLRB is legally authorized to do to ensure fairness in the workplace. 
  • Kimberly Freeman Brown, The Hill: "Right wing flies off course on Boeing controversy," (5/20/11)

    "This case is about retaliation against workers for exercising their rights, and has nothing to do with right-to-work laws. Even in right-to-work states, it’s illegal to make business decisions for the purpose of penalizing workers or trying to prevent them from demonstrating their rights. The NLRB would respond the same way if a company moved to another facility within a single right-to-work state or even from a right-to-work state to a non-right-to-work state. The premise that companies cannot make business decisions for illegal reasons is nothing new — just imagine if businesses were free to relocate based on the race, age, or gender of their employees."
  • Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post: "The Law is 'Clear and Unambiguous:' The NLRB has Duty to Investigate." (4/26/11)

    "Given the public statements of Boeing officials, there is nothing radical about the NLRB’s decision to hold a hearing based on the complaint filed by the International Association of Machinists. Lafe Solomon, the acting general counsel who made the decision, is a much-admired career lawyer who is prohibited from talking with board members about the case. Solomon spent several months trying to broker a settlement, but ran up against a company and union that are fed up with each other and stubbornly determined to teach each other a lesson. The answer, I would suggest, is to be found not in the case law but in the clear and unambiguous words of the National Labor Relations Act … [the NRLA] is still the law of the land, one that Lafe Solomon and his NLRB colleagues have a duty to enforce."
  • Editorial, The New York Times, "Boeing and the NLRB," (4/25/11)

    "... the complaint filed last month by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing is a welcome effort to defend workers’ right to collective bargaining."