Monday, May 21 , 2018, 5:18 pm | A Few Clouds 66º


Tom Donohue: When the Government Picks Winners and Losers

National Labor Relations Board goes too far in its demands of Boeing

You know the nation is on a slippery slope when the government feels free to interfere in legitimate and reasonable business decisions so that it can reward politically favored groups. That’s exactly what’s happening in a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board — the most powerful government agency you may never have heard of — against Boeing.

What’s Boeing’s transgression? It decided to expand production of its new 787 Dreamliner to a new plant in South Carolina, instead of at its Puget Sound facility in Washington state. Boeing allegedly reasoned that such a move would reduce the company’s vulnerability to delivery disruptions caused by strikes at the Puget Sound plant. That prompted an official complaint from NLRB’s general counsel, who argues that Boeing’s exercise of sound business judgment is unlawful, anti-union discrimination.

What is the NLRB? The agency oversees union organizing elections and investigates unfair labor practice charges for most private-sector workers under the National Labor Relations Act. As for the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing, the company most likely will be vindicated in court. However, that could take years and huge legal fees. In the meantime, businesses seeking to invest in new facilities will have to factor in the risk that the government may choose to second-guess those decisions.

If there was ever a time when Congress needed to ensure that a regulatory body stayed true to its mission as enacted by Congress decades ago, this is it. Fortunately, a trio of senators have introduced legislation to rein in the NLRB’s latest assault on business.

The Alexander-Graham-DeMint legislation would ensure that employers can talk honestly about the costs of strikes when planning new investment. It would also reinforce the general principle that the location of where to establish production is a basic business decision that should not be lightly set aside.

So let’s recap. Boeing, one of America’s greatest companies, wants to expand production inside the United States in a favorable business environment, create thousands of new jobs and export a large share of its new airplanes to buyers overseas.

Also, just to be clear, Boeing has already sunk more than a billion dollars into its new plant in South Carolina while adding 2,000 jobs at its Puget Sound plant. And now the NLRB is telling Boeing to pack it all up and move back to Washington?

This action creates more crippling uncertainty, encourages businesses to move production facilities overseas rather than investing in the United States and doesn’t lead to one new job. Can anyone say “overreach”?

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >