The Boeing/NLRB dispute, which concerns a second jet production line Boeing wants to move from unionized factories in Washington state to right-to-work state South Carolina, and a labor board injunction against that, has brought in members of Congress on both sides as well as interest groups. Rand Paul summarized the argument of the far right by hinting at a White House enemies list:
Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and several GOP lawmakers — such as Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) — took turns criticizing the Obama administration for the complaint.
“This is an issue that may have started in South Carolina, but we want to make sure it never touches another state,” Haley said. “We are demanding that the president respond to what the NLRB has done. This goes against everything we know our American economy to be.” [...]
Other senators pinned the blame on the president for the labor board’s complaint.
“He’s responsible for this board. He’s stocked it with his people,” DeMint said. The South Carolina senator also called the complaint “thuggery” and “something you would expect in a Third World country, not in America.”
Paul suggested the complaint showed that the White House had an “enemies list” consisting of GOP-leaning, right-to-work states.
“Mr. President, do you have an enemies list? Is this decision based on the fact that South Carolina appears to be a Republican state, has two Republican senators? Is this decision based on the fact that South Carolina is a right-to-work state? Are they on your enemies list?” Paul said.
This intimidation and assumption of bad faith ought to be what we come to expect from the far right these days.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the decision by the NLRB in remarks today, and said that Republicans need to let the independent agency do its job.
The acting general counsel of the NLRB is a man who is as nonpartisan and independent as the agency he works for. Last month, he issued a complaint against one of America’s largest companies, Boeing. The complaint alleges that after Boeing workers in some states went on strike, the company retaliated by opening a new production line in a non-union facility. That kind of retaliation, if that’s what happened, is illegal.
That’s just the background. I’m not here to judge the merits of the case. In fact, I’m here to do the exact opposite: to remind the Senate that prejudging the case is not our job. That would overstep long-established boundaries and weaken our system of checks and balances.
I strongly encourage all of them to take a step back. We all know Republicans dislike organized labor. We know they disdain unions because unions demand fairness and equality from the big businesses Republicans so often shield at all costs.
Republicans are mad simply because an independent agency is doing its job. This is deeply concerning to those who don’t want to see government work.
For their part, the NLRB has refused to be intimidated by Republican threats. Acting general counsel Lafe Solomon said in a statement that lawmakers should “respect the legal process, rather than trying to litigate this case in the media and public arena.” An administrative law judge will rule on the case in June, and they will have the knowledge in their hands that Boeing executives actually said out loud that they moved production lines because of strikes in Washington state. The judge can determine whether that violates the federal protection of the right to strike, but if you asked me my opinion, I’d say it’s a slam-dunk case.
But Republicans are doing more than offering their opinion. They’re threatening the livelihoods of the decision-makers in the case. This only differs from the US Attorney scandal in that Republicans don’t hold the White House, so the threats are coming from a different part of the government.
So far, this has been a sequence of charges and counter-charges. We’ll see if the law is allowed to rule, or if the Obama Administration gets cold feet and tells the NLRB to call the whole thing off. The NLRB is an independent agency and wouldn’t necessarily have to listen, but the implication will be clear. A lot of people are watching this one to see where the White House will stand.