The aerospace industry is one of America’s last significant competitive industrial sectors. Boeing is a major player in that industry, competing with state-supported enterprises such as Europe’s EADS, Canada’s Bombardier, and Brazil’s Embraer.
Boeing, as most of you know, is rolling out the 787 Dreamliner, in direct competition with Airbus’ A380. In a bid to keep costs down, and remain competitive, Seattle-based Boeing decided to open a new plant for its 787 production in South Carolina, a right to work state. The company promised that this would not affect jobs at home, since existing airframes would remain in production.
Which is where the NRLB stepped in, in effect saying, you can’t do that. Make smart business decisions. In order to remain competitive with state-supported enterprises. And create new jobs.
The National Labor Relations Board announced on Friday that it was dropping its politically charged case against Boeing, in which it had accused the company of violating federal labor law by opening a new aircraft production plant in South Carolina instead of Washington State.
The labor board’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said he had decided to end the case after the union that represents 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington urged the board to withdraw it. That union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had originally asked the board to file the case, but changed its mind after striking a deal with Boeing last week to raise wages and expand jet production in Washington.
The political conflagration ignited by the case will not be extinguished so easily.
No, I should think not.
The NRLB was intended to be a neutral broker between labor and industry. It opened this complaint against Boeing at the behest of the machinist union, and dropped the complaint at the union’s request, after the union exacted wage raises and unusual security guarantees.