NLRB Targets Boeing, Ignores Congress

It is now well known that the Obama administration is trying to use the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as a battering ram to push through policy changes favorable to organized labor. Union leaders probably don’t welcome that public attention, as the NLRB’s suit against Boeing for building a plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, has generated a backlash.

As I note in The American Spectator today, several lawmakers have asked the NLRB for documents pertaining to its actions against Boeing (as well as the Board’s plans to sue four states that have enacted constitutional amendments guaranteeing  secret ballots in union organizing elections).

On May 3, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), minority ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined nine other senators in sending a letter to NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon requesting documents pertaining to the Board’s actions against Boeing.

Then on May 12, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), along with Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), also wrote to Solomon, requesting documents pertaining to its threatened lawsuit against Boeing and the four states with secret ballot amendments — including any communications with union officials.

On May 13, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee, and 10 other senators (including Reps. Gowdy and Ross) also sent Solomon a letter, in which they strongly criticize “what we perceive to be an activist, job-destroying agenda.”

In addition, on May 5, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) wrote to Solomon requesting documents pertaining to the NLRB’s case against Boeing.

The NLRB responded with a letter that simply restates the Board’s position; the only documents attached to it are two news releases from the NLRB’s own website and a copy of the NLRB’s complaint and notice of hearing. In the letter, NLRB Acting Deputy General Counsel Celeste J. Mattina directs the Congressmen to other publicly available information.

This prompted a duly strong reaction from Reps. Kline and Roe. In a release, Kline states that, “The NLRB is not immune from congressional oversight or public scrutiny.” Indeed, the NLRB is not a lawmaking body, and Congress has not delegated to it the authority to change labor laws beyond what is in any statute.

For that reason, the NLRB’s arrogance should worry anyone concerned about the rule of law and the nation’s economic well being — as an unpredictable legal environment is just about the biggest obstacle a government can throw in the way of investment and growth.

The documents to the House Oversight Committee are due this week. It may be in for a similar non-response. Members of Congress should not relent in their efforts to rein in the NLRB’s pro-union activism.

For more on labor policy, see here and here.