NLRB Jettisons Federalism for Unionism

Article excerpt

Byline: Marion Smith, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A federal agency wants to dictate exactly where businesses can create jobs. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Boeing's decision to open a new aircraft plant in South Carolina. The agency charges that the manufacturer's expansion plans constitute retaliation against unions, including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union. Here's the back story.

For years, Seattle-based Boeing has dealt with burdensome labor policies and contentious unions in Washington state. It has endured multiple lengthy strikes since 1989 and lost several business opportunities as a result. The good news: Today, the demand for the company's Dreamliner 787 is so great that Boeing needs to build a new plant to fill the additional orders.

But where? South Carolina's business-friendly environment, significant tax incentives and right-to-work status led Boeing to build near Charleston, rather than Seattle.

Boeing has spent millions (by some estimates, nearly $2 billion) and already employed nearly 1,000 on the project. Now, the NLRB says Boeing must close the facility unless it also builds one in Washington, where employees can be forced to join unions.

South Carolina is one of 22 right-to-work states, where workers cannot be forced to join unions. The NLRB considers that lack of coercion a hostile climate for workers. Clearly, the NLRB wants to enhance union influence and punish businesses that choose right-to-work states.

The NLRB complaint undermines the right of employees and employers to choose where to do business within the United States. At issue are not only the economic consequences of overly restrictive labor policies, but the future of American federalism as envisioned by the Founding Founders.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley correctly notes that if Boeing loses this fight, Americans lose, too. Should federal fiat overrule Boeing's decision to vote with its feet within the U.S., more companies will vote with their feet to locations outside the U.S.

The NLRB is an independent federal agency tasked with investigating unfair labor practices. But since being packed with President Obama appointees, it has tilted in a decidedly pro-union direction. …