Republicans Seek Obama Response on NLRB’s Boeing Complaint

Republicans demanded that President Barack Obama respond to a complaint against Boeing Co. by the National Labor Relations Board, saying the agency’s action on a South Carolina airplane factory may crimp job creation.

“For the president to not weigh in on this is a problem,” Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said today after a meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss the case. “We need to see leadership. This is an unbelievable attack on a state” that is attempting “to put people to work.”

The labor board, which mediates disputes, found last month that Boeing chose to build a factory in South Carolina over adding a line in Washington state because of a history of labor strikes in the Puget Sound area. Boeing doesn’t have to shut the South Carolina plant as long as it opens a second line in Washington, according to the board’s remedy.

“By doing this to Boeing, they are forcing them to spend legal fees, and keeping them from spending money in South Carolina, which I need them to do,” Haley said.

A hearing on the Boeing case is set for June 14 in Seattle. Lafe Solomon, the NLRB acting general counsel, said yesterday in a statement that “there is nothing remarkable or unprecedented” in the complaint against Chicago-based Boeing, and it was issued only after a “thorough investigation in the field” and a “careful review” by attorneys.

Solomon Nomination

Republicans and Boeing criticized the board over the complaint. Republican senators are urging Obama to withdraw the nomination of Solomon, who filed the case, to be NLRB general counsel. Boeing has faced increased labor tension, with a strike by engineers and four by the Machinists Union since 1989, including a two-month walkout at the end of 2008.

“The president could fix this,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican. “He could remove Mr. Solomon. He will never see the light of day in the Senate.”

The Republican reaction to the board’s action is “overly dramatic” and “disturbing,” said Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who heads the committee that consider Solomon’s nomination.

“Republicans have chosen to spend their time attacking the handling of a routine unfair labor practice charge,” he said in an e-mail.

Party leaders should back programs that create jobs and not on attacking the labor movement, Harkin said. “Unions are one of the few voices left in our society speaking up for the little guy, and if we let powerful CEOs trample all over these rights without consequences, we might as well give up on having a middle class altogether,” he said.

Graham and Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said they will introduce legislation before the end of the week that would seek to prevent similar complaints from the NLRB. The bill would prohibit federal action against states that pass laws allowing workers to opt out of joining a labor union.

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