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 shouldn’t have the power to force a union into accepting unilaterally changed pay rules, or forcing an end to a strike, unions should not be able to force corporations into building an expansion where they would like them to, or block them from building where they choose.

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 a sort of de facto ownership.

Regardless of your personal opinion on the subject, there is no (nor should there ever be, in a free country) right to force a business to move anywhere in specific, any more than there is a right to force them to stay somewhere they don’t want to stay. The government can obviously regulate on details, but not the right to make choices like this.

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 – from what I was able to find), 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.

Cronyism is wrong, no matter which “side” it’s helping.

Author Details
After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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4 thoughts on “Government Grossly Overstepping its Bounds in Boeing Labor Union Case”

  1. No surprises here. This administration is overreaching into the corporate work like no administration before it.

    Between this and essentially dictating what executives a corporation can hire, it’s bad.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. This is a ridiculous comment.

      Nobody said anything about it being a slam dunk.

      Who donates to whom has nothing to do with what I said.

      Who gets stoked has nothing to do with what I said.

      Your example of the Bush administration illustrates *my* point – we need firewalls between different, free-acting, stakeholders. In this case, that would be employers, employees and the government.

      None should control the other. All should be free to make their own choices.

      It’s asenine to call this a fringe of this issue. This is at the very core of it.

      Boeing isn’t circumventing anything. If unions don’t want to work there, then nobody can force them to, same as if Boeing doesn’t want to build a plant somewhere, nobody should be able to force them to.

      What we want is immaterial. This is a decision we have no right to impose our wills upon.

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