Hearing: Judge won’t let Boeing put NLRB on trial
SEATTLE — In the first day of substantive on-the-record discussions in the hearing concerning the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing, a federal judge Thursday quickly denied Boeing’s subpoena request for the NLRB’s investigation documents.
In essence, the ruling puts a lid on Boeing’s attempt to put the NLRB on trial, said Connie Kelliher, a spokeswoman for Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle. “Rather than address the case on merit and law, Boeing continues to try to attack the NLRB.”
Boeing had attempted to subpoena the law enforcement agency and demand statements and documents from their official investigation. In quashing the request the judge explained when evidence is introduced in the trial, Boeing will have the opportunity to challenge and test the validity of the evidence when it is presented.
“The investigation of this case by the NLRB is not on trial. The trial will be about the facts and the law,” said David Campbell, attorney for the Machinists Union. “Boeing continues to avoid the real issue. If they are so confident in their case, as their CEO told the Wall Street Journal this week, they should have their day in court and try their case.”
After making the ruling, the parties began arguing over outstanding subpoenas in preparation for the evidentiary portion of the proceeding.
The hearing began on June 14. Until Thursday, the parties had primarily engaged in off-the-record conferences aimed at narrowing and clarifying the scope of all pending subpoenas. However, other than the admissions and denials in Boeing’s answer, no real evidence has been offered nor received by the court from the aerospace giant.
The NLRB and Machinists Union attorneys filed their reply briefs on June 21 in response to Boeing’s motion to dismiss within the one-week time frame requested by the judge.
In asking the judge to reject Boeing’s motion to dismiss, the snion pointed out that Boeing’s motion was “Short on law, but long on hyperbolic language.”
“Boeing’s motion to dismiss confirms that its primary defense to this action is actually a political one,” the union said. “The Boeing Co. opposes the enforcement of a 76-year old federal labor law that protects workers’ right to strike. Political objection to the enforcement of a law is not a legal defense to a violation of that law and cannot serve as a legitimate basis for dismissal.”
In its brief, the union encouraged the judge to deny Boeing’s motion to dismiss entirely and promptly begin with the evidentiary portion of the proceeding, which would involve calling witnesses and presenting evidence.
Boeing has until Monday, June 27, to respond.
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District 751 now represents 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.
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