The decision last month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to side with a union trying to block Boeing Co. from operating in South Carolina has entered a new stage: the U.S. Senate. And the implications extend far beyond South Carolina. Last week, on May 12, Senators Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced a bill, the Job Protection Act (S. 964), to bar the board from overriding an employer's decision to site a facility in a particular state. The measure, which has at least 34 co-sponsors, is a rebuke to NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon's complaint against Boeing on April 20 that the company had acted unfairly against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) in opening a facility near Charleston, S.C. to build its planned "787 Dreamliner" jet.
The National Labor Relations Board must have a broad definition of "coercion" when it comes to employers. With unions, the standard seems a lot narrower. On April 20, the board filed a 10-page complaint (see pdf) against Boeing alleging the company's decision in 2009 to locate its second assembly plant in South Carolina represented illegal retaliation against employees belonging to the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM).