Union: Boeing & allies ‘bumrushing’ the law

SEATTLE — The Machinists Union Thursday issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the deliberately misleading claims being made by Boeing and its political allies in regards to the National Labor Relations Board complaint against the company.

“In the furor being stirred up by Boeing and its surrogates, the rule of law is being trampled in a bums’ rush to attack the NLRB, the Obama administration and collective bargaining,” said Chris Corson, the chief counsel for the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

Among the false and misleading statements:


Boeing lawyer Michael Luttig

“The federal government is trying to tell a company where to put its work.”

False. The National Labor Relations Act does not restrict the placement of work unless a company does so for an illegal reason – and retaliating against workers because they engage in activity that the law protects is illegal. The NLRB complaint itself says that the board’s chief counsel “does not seek to prohibit (Boeing) from making non-discriminatory decisions with respect to where work will be performed.”

“The NLRB’s complaint is an attack on states with ‘right-to-work’ laws.”

Not only false, but nonsense.

The normal rule under the National Labor Relations Act is that employers and unions may, by agreement, require all employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement to share in the union’s costs of negotiating for improved wages, benefits and protections by paying union dues or a non-member fee.

However, the act also permits states, by statute, to ban such a cost-sharing requirement. These are so-called “right-to-work” laws, and they permit “free riders” – that is, employees who receive all the benefits paid for by their co-workers without contributing themselves. South Carolina is such a state.

The NLRB’s complaint has nothing to do with such laws. It seeks to remedy Boeing’s retaliation against its workers in Washington by bringing their work back to Washington.

“The remedy would be the same wherever Boeing had moved that work,” Corson said. “It has no effect on South Carolina’s ‘right-to-work’ law whatsoever.”

“This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent.”

Originally said by lead Boeing lawyer Michael Luttig, this statement too is false. The NLRB cited and explained its precedents in a fact sheet that accompanied its complaint, which can be found at the NLRB Web site.

“The clarity and force of those precedents may explain why Boeing is going so wild in the press and with politicians,” Corson said.

“Boeing is not above the law,” Corson concluded. “Let’s see what due process produces instead of trying this case in the press or on the floor of Congress.”

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., Machinists Union District Lodge 751 now represents more than 27,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, members used collective bargaining to ratify new contracts with 22 of them, without a single day lost to strikes.

Become a fan of IAM 751 on Facebook.


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