S.C. AG pens op-ed on labor issue

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 7, 2011


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, in a guest column for The State last week, called the National Labor Relations Board's recent actions against Boeing and state labor laws "politics as usual."

The NLRB is upset that Boeing decided to assemble 787 Dreamliner airplanes in a South Carolina facility instead of in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Boeing said a history of strikes in the Puget Sound facility, which has unionized employees who assemble seven 787 Dreamliners per month, forced its decision.

Employees at the South Carolina facility are not unionized.

In April, the labor board filed a complaint against Boeing to stop it from expanding production to the state. The board has since issued a memo seeking to force companies to receive NLRB and union approval before moving a business unit. It also wants to sign off on state constitutional amendments.

In May, the NLRB also filed suit against South Dakota and Arizona challenging amendments guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot in union elections; it has signaled future litigation challenging similar amendments in South Carolina and Utah.

"These actions jeopardize jobs and thwart economic development not just in right-to-work states such as ours but in union-friendly states as well," Wilson wrote in the column, published in the newspaper Wednesday.

"Why would a company want to locate to a union state knowing the federal government will block its ability to expand? The labor board's shortsightedness will not lead to an expansion in union membership, but instead cause an exodus of American jobs."

The board's leadership, Wilson says, must remember that the agency was created to protect the rights of workers, not to wreak havoc upon prosperity and stifle job creation.

The White House is dodging its responsibility in the matter, Wilson writes, by saying it does not "get involved in particular enforcement matters of independent agencies."

But, as the attorney general points out, the labor board isn't really an independent agency.

"The president placed union representatives in NLRB leadership positions through recess appointments designed to circumvent the Senate's confirmation process. These appointees have enforced their bias of labor-union longevity over private-sector prosperity," Wilson wrote. "The president's silence is consent, akin to a parent in a grocery store refusing to control an unruly child. As a result, the labor board has been given the green light to wage war on commerce and industry."

He added, "Businesses understand how to create jobs. The government does not."

Wilson says he will challenge the federal government, if need be.

"Unless deterred, bureaucratic agencies bent upon the destruction of capitalism will reduce America from greatness to mediocrity. That cannot stand. We must remember that America was made great by hard work and free enterprise," he wrote.

Wilson is one of nine state attorneys general who wrote to the labor board in April, asking it to withdraw its complaint against Boeing. Those others joining Wilson in the letter were: Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, Jon Bruning of Nebraska, Greg Abbott of Texas, Sam Olens of Georgia, Pam Bondi of Florida, Luther Strange of Alabama, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma and Tom Horne of Arizona.

A NLRB administrative law judge will conduct a hearing June 14 in Seattle.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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