Quote of the Day: Boeing vs. the NLRB

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OK, this quote is more than a year old. But here it is anyway. It’s Boeing CEO Jim Albaugh telling a reporter why they decided to move the 787 Dreamliner assembly line to South Carolina:

The overriding factor was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we are paying today. It was that we can’t afford to have a work stoppage every three years.

This is, basically, prima facie evidence that Boeing’s decision was made in retaliation for past strikes at their Washington state facilities. And guess what? Like it or not, that’s against the law. You’re not allowed to retaliate against workers for exercising their right to strike by taking work away from them.

I don’t really have a settled opinion on whether the NLRB should ultimately block Boeing from moving its assembly line to Charleston. Maybe the statements from Albaugh and other Boeing executives don’t rise to the level of retaliation or intimidation. Hearings and appeals later this year will decide that. But Republicans have been howling about this case for months, pretending that it’s some kind of insane socialist power grab from a bunch of business-hating bureaucrats, and now they’re planning to introduce a bill to strip the NLRB of the right to hear cases like this. But the NLRB’s case is neither crazy nor unprecedented. The union might not prevail in the end, but they have a perfectly sound basis for a complaint.

Anyway, I just wanted to write a very short post that spelled this out, since it so often gets buried. The real truth here is that Jim Albaugh is an idiot. He knows the law perfectly well, and he deliberately chose to make considered public statements that attributed the South Carolina move to past strikes. He didn’t have to do that, and if he hadn’t, the union would have been stuck. But for some reason he decided to tell the truth and practically dare the union to do something about it. So they did.

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