IAM Charges Sen. Graham With Ethics Violations In Boeing Case


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IAM Charges Sen. Graham With Ethics Violations In Boeing Case

By Daniel Baxter

June 21, 2011 - The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) released a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics calling for an investigation into South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s conduct and statements regarding the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) pending complaint against the Boeing Company. 

The IAM letter cites potentially unethical efforts by Sen. Graham and others to pressure NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon to drop the law enforcement proceeding against Boeing. 

“I believe that prior to the issuance of the Boeing complaint on April 20th, Senator Lindsey Graham communicated with NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon in one or more attempts to pressure him not to do so,” said IAM General Counsel Chris Corson.

“I also believe that these communications included threats that the Senator would seek to defund or otherwise adversely affect the funding of the NLRB if the Boeing complaint were pursued.” The IAM letter also cites a letter from Sen. Graham to President Obama, in which Graham declares he will pursue sanctions against Solomon and the NLRB even if it turns out that the NLRB’s law enforcement action against Boeing is upheld.

“I don’t believe that a Senator or any other politician should be trying to interfere with and prevent a law enforcement trial,” said Corson, who cited possible violation of Senate Rule 43. “Americans expect law enforcement to be there for them when they are victimized by discrimination or other unlawful behavior.  When politicians intervene on behalf of a rich businessman or corporation in order to stop law enforcement from doing its job, our Constitution and rule of law are put in jeopardy.”

Back in April the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to issue a complaint charging the Boeing Company with illegal retaliation against Boeing employees in the Puget Sound area. According to the NLRB, Boeing’s conduct was “inherently destructive” of rights guaranteed to workers.

The NLRB’s complaint is in response to an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by IAM District 751, which represents more than 25,000 Boeing employees in Washington state. The IAM charge cites repeated statements by senior Boeing executives that lawful, protected activity was the “overriding” factor in the decision to locate a 787 assembly line in South Carolina.


“Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights,” said IAM Vice President Rich Michalski. “Federal labor law is clear: it’s illegal to threaten or penalize workers who engage in concerted activity.”

As a remedy for the legal violation, the federal agency is seeking a judicial order requiring Boeing to operate the second 787 line, including supply lines, with IAM members in the Puget Sound. The decision by Boeing to locate a 787 assembly line in South Carolina followed years of 787 production delays and an extraordinary round of mid-contract talks in which the IAM proposed an 11-year agreement to provide Boeing with the labor stability it claimed was necessary to keep 787 production in the Puget Sound area.

Despite the IAM offer, Boeing walked away from the talks and signed an agreement with South Carolina that included nearly $900 million in incentives and tax relief in exchange for building a 787 line in North Charleston, South Carolina. “Boeing’s current management needs to rethink its strategy of repeatedly alienating its most valuable asset: the highly-skilled workers who build Boeing aircraft,” said Michalski. “We will not allow our members to be made scapegoats for any purpose.”

    The IAM represents more than 35,000 Boeing workers and is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, with nearly 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries.

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