Yet Another Attack on Collective Bargaining

By Richard Thayer

As if it didn’t have enough irons in the fire to keep it occupied, the Republican Party this week has picked yet another fight with unions.

Not long after returning from their two-week Easter recess, Republicans didn’t waste any time picking up where they had left off prior to leaving town.

On Tuesday (April 3), Senate Republicans introduced a bill to bolster their “right to work” laws. According to The Huffington Post, this was filed in response to a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Boeing.

In 2009 Boeing decided to move the production of its 787 Dreamliner from its unionized plant in Washington state to a non-union plant in South Carolina, employing approximately 1,000 non-union workers. This past month the NLRB filed the complaint stating that Boeing’s move violated the law because it was in retaliation against the union representing Boeing’s workers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. It seems that the union membership has had the audacity in the past to strike and this had displeased Boeing executives. They obviously don’t like it when workers demand better working conditions.

The NLRB’s complaint is backed up with hard evidence: news interviews and documents obtained by the NLRB show that Boeing executives have stated emphatically that they were moving their production line to South Carolina because of past strikes and in order to avoid future strikes. Non-union labor, like that in South Carolina, don’t strike, they just grin and bear it.

The general counsel for the NLRB, Lafe Solomon, says the board had no choice in filing the complaint. “They (Boeing) had a consistent message that they were doing this to punish their employees for having struck and having the power to strike in the future. I can’t not issue a complaint in the face of such evidence. A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law.”

In response to the complaint Senator Lemar Alexander (R-TN) has sponsored the “Right to Work Protection Act” that would “clarify” (emphasis added) a state’s ability to enact right to work (for less) laws. Among other things, the Act would prevent agreements between unions and companies where union membership is a requirement.

Senator Alexander said in promoting his bill: “Every action they (NLRB) take throws a big wet blanket over job creation. It’s no wonder we have 9 percent unemployment.”

Aleaxander said this even though the plant is located in South Carolina and he’s a senator from Tennessee.

And of course there was a great deal of whining from South Carolina’s two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint.

Graham is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying that the Obama administration has adopted a “pro-union, anti-business agenda,” adding: “I’m afraid the NLRB has an agenda that is not healthy for the country.”

He obviously misses the Bush administration’s anti-union, pro-business agenda of eight torturous years.

DeMint chimed in, complaining, “This is nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obama’s re-election campaign.”

All three Republican senators label the complaint from the NLRB as “frivolous.”

The union’s vice-president in Washington, Rich Michalski says, “Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights.”

Attorney Solomon says that if they’re unable to settle the dispute soon, an administrative judge would hear the case on June 14 in Seattle.

I have a feeling this will go to court.

Just another example – among many – where workers collective bargaining rights are under attack.



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One Response to “Yet Another Attack on Collective Bargaining”

  1. mcoville Says:

    Don’t worry, the Democratic state leaders are jumping on the bandwagon: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/04/27/house_votes_to_limit_bargaining_on_health_care/?page=full

    I am proud to live in a “Right to work” state, Florida. Do you also notice that the “Right to work” states are the ones growing? http://www.nrtw.org/rtws.htm

    The majority of people prefer to live and work in a free state that they are not forced to join and pay dues to an organized union in order to get a job.


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