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  • December 2014
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Obama’s NLRB Putting the Big Chill on Boeing

The Boeing Corporation is feeling the long arm of the Obama administration’s zealous nanny-statism.  

There is, apparently, nothing which this administration doesn’t feel entitled to regulate, including the internal business decisions of America’s corporations; the National Labor relations Board (NLRB) has decided to stick its nose into Boeing’s business and investigate whether the company should be permitted to move the manufacturing of one of its 737 Dreamliner lines to the right-to-work state of South Carolina.  

THE NLRB suspects that Boeing is making the move in retaliation for the earlier strikes in the state of Washington.  The unions in Puget Sound have ground the company’s commerical aircraft production line to a halt four times since 1989 and, in 2008, a 58-day strike cost the company around $1.8 billion.     

According to The New York Times:

It is highly unusual for the federal government to seek to reverse a corporate decision as important as the location of plant.

But ever since a Democratic majority took control of the five-member board after Mr. Obama’s election, the board has signaled that it would seek to adopt a more liberal, pro-union tilt after years of pro-employer decisions under President Bush.

Although the board has not yet issued many major decisions reversing Bush-era policies, it has proposed requiring private sector employers to post a notice about workers’ right to unionize, and Mr. Solomon has begun moving more aggressively to win reinstatement of union supporters fired illegally by management during unionization drives…

The N.L.R.B. asserted that on numerous occasions Boeing officials had communicated an unlawful motive for transferring the production line, including an interview with The Seattle Times in which a Boeing executive said, “The overriding factor was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we’re paying today. It was that we cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years…”

The company also said it had decided to expand in South Carolina in part to protect business continuity and to reduce the damage to its finances and reputation from future work stoppages.

Boeing, which in 2001 decided to move its world headquarters to Obama’s backyard, Chicago, and has been cozy with the President and his allies. 

The Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist Timothy Carney takes a whack, pointing to Boeing’s avid reliance on government largesse for its well-being in the past:    

This puts Boeing in an awkward position. The NLRB is surely overreaching in trying to block Boeing from making some of its 787s in South Carolina, a right-to-work state (NLRB calls this illegal retaliation against the machinists and aerospace workers union for its 2005 and 2008 strikes). In its effort to fight back, Boeing could be defanged by its reliance on big government. It’s a cautionary tale for Obama’s other corporate allies — from the drug industry that benefits so much from Obamacare to the tech, agrichem, coal, and other industries that have benefitted from the president’s corporatism.

Boeing and Obama, both based in Chicago, have a real political friendship. In 2008, Obama was by far the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Boeing employees and executives, hauling in $197,000 — five times as much as John McCain, and more than the top eight Republicans combined…

And Boeing has pocketed even more taxpayer loot under Obama than it did under George W. Bush. Obama’s export initiative has included ramping up subsidies from Ex-Im, and Boeing has reaped the benefits. In fiscal 2009, Ex-Im guaranteed $8.4 billion of loans to benefit Boeing, an astounding 90 percent of all of Ex-Im’s loan guarantees. This past fiscal year, according to a recent annual report, Boeing won $6.4 billion in Ex-Im loan guarantees, 63 percent of the total.

CAGW has also taken aim at the Export-Import Bank, which has become a corporate welfare agency lap dog for large companies like Boeing.

CAGW tracked activities related to award of a Pentagon contract to Boeing for the procurement of the the next-gen aerial refueling tanker, an ordeal that had more twists, turns and drama than Erica Kane on All My Children (including bribery and jail time). 

Though Boeing took the prize in that contest, rival EADS has questioned whether the company, which has had numerous delays and cost overruns on its Dreamliner, can deliver the goods on time under a fixed price contracting platform, as they promised.  

The initial 18 planes are scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force by 2017, and operating under the self-inposed constraints associated with such a tight, fixed price bid, it is not surprising that Boeing execs would seek to minimize the possibility of strikes, work stoppages, cost overruns, and delays by moving the second production line to South Carolina…in any case, vigilant oversight will be essential to ensure that the tanker is delivered at the best cost to taxpayers. 

 

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