NLRB Dismisses South Carolina Labor Suit Against Boeing

Dec 9, 2011 2:13pm

The National Labor Relations Board announced today that it has dismissed its  high-profile labor complaint against Boeing, Inc., after the complainant in the case, the Machinists Union, ratified a massive contract with the airplane manufacturing giant Thursday night.

The labor complaint has been the subject of national outrage and has serves a litmus test of sorts for the GOP presidential candidates, who have used the labor board as an example of what they call President Obama’s “job-killing” policies.

The complaint charged that Boeing participated in unfair labor practices after it moved part of the production of it’s 787 Dreamliner airplane from Washington to South Carolina, a state where laws are less friendly to unions. About 1,000 jobs were created in South Carolina at the new Boeing plant.

“This is the outcome we have always preferred, and one that is typical for our agency,” NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said in a statement announcing the withdrawn charges. “I am pleased that the collective bargaining process has succeeded and that the parties have begun a promising new chapter in their relationship.”

The Machinist Union announced a tentative contract with Boeing last week that guarantees production of Boeing’s newest airplane, the 737 MAX, will be built my union members in Washington. That contract was ratified Thursday with 74 percent of union workers supporting it.

“When we announced the tentative contract agreement we said if  our members ratified it that we considered it to have resolved our issues with Boeing,” the union’s spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said.

Kelliher said this is the first time production of an entire line of planes has been guaranteed in the union contract.

“It is such a monumental, historic moment that is changing the relationship between Boeing and the Machinists,” Kelliher said.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who has been investigating the NLRB case against Boeing, praised the board’s decision to drop the charges, but said his investigation into the board would continue.

“Today’s news is a victory for American manufacturers, workers and the cause of job creation,” Issa said in a statement.  ”It is also a victory for the people of South Carolina and Boeing workers whose livelihoods have been in limbo throughout the course of this action.”

Issa continued: “NLRB’s record of rogue action and lack of transparency with the public and Congress in this case–and in others–has raised serious questions that remain unanswered.”

The Oversight Committee’s Ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said in a statement that hopes his committee will drop their investigation now that the case has concluded.

“The deal reached this week is a victory for American workers and a vindication of their rights under federal law not to be discriminated against,” Cummings said. “I am encouraged by the National Labor Relations Board’s responsible handling of its duties as mandated by Congress, and I hope our Committee will follow suit and conclude its actions relating to this matter.”

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