Congressman Tim Scott (R-SC) today proposed legislation that would prevent the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from remedying what it considers unlawful labor practices by ordering a company to shut down operations at a particular facility or transfer its employment elsewhere.
The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act, signed by Rep. Scott and four other House Republicans, is in response to the NLRB's efforts to make Boeing cease operations at its new North Charleston, South Carolina, facility. The Board claims that Boeing transferred work on its 787 Dreamliner aircraft there from Washington State in retaliation for past strikes at its West Coast facility. Federal law prevents a company from moving its operations if that move involves punishing employees for exercising their federally protected right to unionize or strike. Apparently, Boeing executives mentioned the strikes at the Washington State facility as the reason for taking the new manufacturing operation to South Carolina, a right-to-work state.
And in late June, the NLRB asked a federal judge to order Boeing to cease operations in South Carolina and move the jobs back to Washington. Congressman Scott and others endorsing the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act believe that the government has no right to tell a company where it must operate. Business and other government leaders agree that such a move undermines a company's competitive advantage.
Further, there has been a renewed push for unionization. According to Phillip B. Wilson, president and general counsel at the Labor Relations Institute, a consulting firm that helps companies avoid unionization, located in Broken Arrow, Okla., "Unions are desperate - they are spending millions per year in the political arena alone attempting to influence both legislation and regulation that would make it easier for them to force employees into unions. They are also engaging in corporate campaigns, which are costly both in real dollars and in the public relations sphere, and which can have a detrimental long-term impact on the viability of a business."
And although unions lost their Congressional battle for the Employee Free Choice Act - the "card-check" unionization law - many believe organizing will be made easier with Craig Becker's appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has proposed new rules that will slash the time between a union petition and election and severely restrict management efforts to tell explain why a union might not be in employees' best interests.
With this new push for unionization and the rights of unions, how the Boeing story plays out remains to be seen. But, if the legislation proposed today by Rep. Scott were enacted, it would pre-empt the NLRB's efforts to move the Boeing jobs from South Carolina back to the West Coast and further boost economic development in right-to-work states.
"This is a huge issue because economic development in the South has really been accelerated by the growth of nonunion plants," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University. "This case directly threatens the Southern model of economic development".
Finally, the National Association of Manufacturers recently polled its members and of the 1,000 who responded, 69 percent said that the NLRB's actions would negatively affect their ability to create jobs. This statistic demonstrates the concern among manufacturers that the NLRB's actions will negatively affect their future hiring and capital investment decisions.