NLRB Issued Complaint Against Boeing For Unlawful Labor Practices
By Steve Hall
April 21, 2011 - NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon on Wednesday issued a complaint against the Boeing Company for alleging that it violated federal labor law by deciding to transfer a second production line to a non-union facility in South Carolina for discriminatory reasons.
Boeing announced in 2007 that it planned to assemble
seven 787 Dreamliner airplanes per month in the Puget
Sound area of Washington state, where its employees have
long been represented by the International Association
of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The company later said that it would create a second production line to assemble an additional three planes a month to address a growing backlog of orders. In October 2009, Boeing announced that it would locate that second line at the non-union facility.
In repeated statements to employees and the media, company
executives cited the unionized employees? past strike activity
and the possibility of strikes occurring sometime in the future
as the overriding factors in deciding to locate the second line
in the non-union facility.
The NLRB launched an investigation of the transfer of second
line work in response to charges filed by the Machinists union
and found reasonable cause to believe that Boeing had violated
two sections of the National Labor Relations Act because its
statements were coercive to employees and its actions were
motivated by a desire to retaliate for past strikes and chill
future strike activity.
?A worker's right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by
the National Labor Relations Act,? Mr. Solomon said. ?We also
recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions
based on their economic interests, but they must do so within
the law. I have worked with the parties to encourage settlement
in the hope of avoiding costly litigation, and my door remains
open to that possibility.?
To remedy the alleged unfair labor practices, the Acting General Counsel seeks an order that would require Boeing to maintain the second production line in Washington state. The complaint does not seek closure of the South Carolina facility, nor does it prohibit Boeing from assembling planes there.
On March 26, 2010, the International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers, District Lodge 751, filed a charge with the NLRB
alleging that the Boeing Company had engaged in multiple unfair labor
practices related to its decision to place a second production line for
the 787 Dreamliner airplane in a non-union facility.
The union also charged that the company violated the National Labor
Relations Act by failing to negotiate over the decision to transfer the
production line. The Machinists? union has represented Boeing Company
employees in the Puget Sound area of Washington, where the planes are
assembled, since 1936, and in Portland, Oregon, where some airplane
parts are made, since 1975.
Throughout the investigation of the charge, NLRB officials met with both
parties in efforts to facilitate a settlement agreement. The
overwhelming majority of NLRB charges found to have merit are settled by
agreement. Although no settlement was reached and the Agency was
compelled to pursue litigation, the Acting General Counsel remains open
to a resolution between the parties.
The complaint (19-CA-32431) alleges that Boeing violated two sections of
the National Labor Relations Act by making coercive statements and
threats to employees for engaging in statutorily protected activities,
and by deciding to place the second line at a non-union facility, and
establish a parts supply program nearby, in retaliation for past strike
activity and to chill future strike activity by its union employees.
The investigation found that Boeing officials communicated the unlawful motivation in multiple statements to employees and the media. For example, a senior Boeing official said in a videotaped interview with the Seattle Times newspaper: "The overriding factor (in transferring the line) 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."
Boeing said it will
vigorously contest a complaint brought before the National Labor
Relations Board (NLRB) today by the leadership of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
"This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical
departure from both NLRB and Supreme Court precedent," said Boeing
Executive Vice President and General Counsel J. Michael Luttig. "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."
|?AvStop Online Magazine Contact Us Return To News|