14 May 2011

Government Grossly Overstepping its Bounds in Boeing Labor Union Case

Just to be clear, I’m not arguing that this is illegal. I’m arguing that this is patently WRONG. In short, if the law does allow the government to tell a company what states it can decide to put a factory, that law needs to be changed.

Each state has different laws, levels of taxation, pools of employees with the right skills, access to materials, etc, but when a company is looking to build a factory, there are certainly some areas that the government should have input on. Zoning and environmental concerns are a couple examples of this, but the federal government shouldn’t have a damn bit of input as to what state that factory goes.

Corporations do not own unions, and unions do not own corporations. Just as a corporation cannot force a union into accepting new pay rules, or ending a strike, the unions should not be able to force corporations into building an expansion where they would like them to.

Every time a union strikes, that corporation has to weigh the cost of loss of income during that time with the costs of shutting down and moving. If a union can use the government to force a company to build where they want them to, then that basically means the union has some sort of de facto ownership.

It doesn’t matter one l bit what reasoning Boeing has to want to build a new plant in South Carolina, and I’m sure the right to work aspect came into the equation. Why shouldn’t it? If the unions in the Northwest can cost them over a billion in profits during strikes in recent years, I’d like you to tell me why a smart business WOULDN’T take that into consideration?

Regardless of your personal opinion on the subject, there is no right to keep a business anywhere, any more than there is a right to force them to stay somewhere. The government can obviously regulate on details, but not the right to make choices like this for them.

None of this makes any sense. The National Labor Relations Board should be ashamed of itself, whoever made this call should be fired and if the rules actually do allow this sort of thing (which doesn’t seem clear), then they need to be changed. The NLRB is supposed to be an arbiter between corporations and their unions, not an extension of union interests – or the other way around.

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0 thoughts on “Government Grossly Overstepping its Bounds in Boeing Labor Union Case”

  1. It looks to me like both the government and Boing have mishandled this issue. When a company has signed a contract with a Union, all changes to the work including working conditions and pay must be negotiated. The most common error large corporation make is to “unilaterally” withdraw the work (transfer it someplace else) or impose some change to work rules or pay without negotiations.

    Boing certainly has a right to produce the 787 where ever it would like, but since they had already agreed to a site, there must be a good reason to change. The treat of a strike is not a good one. Costs leading to competitive strength (that secures everyone’s job) are usually the basis of a change in manufacturing site. Boing can still win this with a sound cost based argument.

    The government must be sensitive to workers concerns and when presented with what appears to be an anti-union argument, is put in a difficult position. Fact finding before legal action might have been wiser.

    South Carolina is already the home of BMW and it operates in a non-union environment quite successfully. It should be a good home for Boing too. Boing just has to make the right argument.

  2. While I agree on the basis of the argument, there are a few troubling aspects that don’t make it a slam dunk. Boeing has been a major GOP donor for a long time – just look at the records. the company knew that a) this move would hand Nikki Haley a free wedge issue and b) stoke the ire of unions. after the GOP overreaching in other states I’m fine with them and the government taking issue – even seeking remedy.

    I was in grad school reporting in D.C. when the energy companies were helping The Bush Administration write energy policy. and the idea that a corporation could touch our policymaking that closely – falling far outside the needs and wants of us, the people – is nothing short of disgusting.

    so we’re arguing the fringes of this argument: why is Boeing seeking to circumvent unions, and why is the govt fighting them? once again, we want this issue to land in the center and the dialogue is far from it.

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