Congressman calls NLRB a 'rogue agency'

Michael P. Tremoglie Oct. 26, 2011, 11:39am


WASHINGTON - (Legal Newsline) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) called the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) a "rogue agency" in an Oct. 17 letter to the board's general counsel Lafe Solomon. Solomon has defied the committee's subpoena.

Issa was incensed by documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch. It announced Oct. 5 that it obtained documents from NLRB regarding its controversial lawsuit against Seattle-based Boeing over the aerospace company's $750 million non-union assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C.

Issa said in his letter that the documents included emails that indicate the NLRB is not being an impartial agency but instead an advocate for one side.

"Your continued personal obstruction, lack of compliance with a validly issued congressional subpoena and false statements to the committee are unacceptable," Issa wrote. "The NLRB is acting as a rogue agency that believes it does not have to fully answer to Congress."

The documents were obtained via Judicial Watch's July 14 FOIA request. They included internal correspondence amongst NLRB attorneys discussing the Boeing lawsuit.

The NLRB maintains Boeing management's choice to open a Dreamliner production line in South Carolina was in retaliation for labor strife the company endured by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). A series of union strikes slowed production of the plane in 2008.

Boeing responded to the NLRB's lawsuit by saying the "claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent. Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region."

"The NLRB is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of labor disputes, not a cheerleader for unions," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

"These documents confirm that the Obama NLRB is abusing its power on behalf of a powerful union to attack a major U.S. corporation. No wonder Judicial Watch had to sue the Obama administration to obtain these records."

Republicans and other nonprofit and government watchdog groups have repeatedly claimed that the NLRB acts politically. They state that rather than performing its function of an arbitrator it is acting as an advocate for labor unions at the expense of businesses.

NLRB spokesperson Nancy Cleeland issued a statement in response to Issa's letter.

"The NLRB has been cooperating and continues to cooperate with the Committee in producing documents related to the Boeing investigation," Cleeland said. "At the same time, it has been complying with various Freedom of Information Act requests, including a request for Boeing documents from Judicial Watch. Because the documents were being produced on separate tracks, the Committee had not yet received some materials at the time they were provided to Judicial Watch. It is the Agency's intent to provide those materials as part of its next, and fourth, delivery of documents later this week."

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