NLRB Receives Congressional Subpoena in Boeing Dispute

Aug. 8, 2011
Congressional committee chair says NLRB case against aerospace giant may set 'job-killing precendent' and demands documentation 'without further delay.'

Threats turned to action on Aug. 7 as Darrell Issa, R, Calif., and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena to the National Labor Relations Board and its acting general counsel over documents related to board actions against the Boeing Co.

On Monday, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon expressed his disappointment about the development via a press statement. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time since 1940 that the National Labor Relations Board has been the subject of a Congressional subpoena, the statement read. For months, my staff and I have diligently tried to satisfy the Committee's desire for information while also preserving the integrity of our process and the rights of the parties in a case being actively litigated.

The subpoena compels the agency and Solomon to comply with earlier requests for documentation regarding the NLRBs actions against the aerospace giant, according to a committee press statement. The subpoena compels the requested documents, some of which date from January 2009, by noon, Aug. 12.

The NLRB is currently engaged in a dispute with Boeing Co. for alleged unfair labor practices. In an April complaint, the federal agency charged the Chicago-based aerospace company with transferring work on its 787 Dreamliner to a new South Carolina facility in retaliation for past strikes at its Washington state production site.

The dispute is currently being heard by an NLRB administrative law judge.

Boeing denies the charges.

For several months, Issa has been demanding the NLRB turn over documents related to its Boeing actions. He describes the case against Boeing as potentially setting a job-killing precedent just as U.S. manufacturers are working toward economic recovery.

"President Obama and both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have questioned the wisdom behind NLRB's actions against Boeing, Issa said in a press statement. As this matter could take years to resolve and create even more crippling uncertainty for job creators, it is imperative that Congress get complete facts about NLRB's rationale and its decision making process in this matter without further delay."

The subpoena is the latest turn in a dispute that has grown ever-more contentious. Most recently Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in July introduced legislation that would halt the National Labor Relations Boards ability to remedy unlawful labor practices by ordering companies to close, shut down or transfer employment.

The legislation takes aim at the remedy sought by the NLRB against Boeing for its alleged infraction. The federal agency has stated it wants Boeing to move Dreamliner work slated for South Carolina to its Washington operations.

That a Washington, D.C.-based bureaucracy could dictate the work location and parameters for a world-leading company is unprecedented in a global economy and hobbles a leading American job creator at a time of economic vulnerability," Issa said in Mondays statement.

Solomon said the NLRB will continue to work with the oversight committee to find a reasonable and responsible balance between satisfying its information requirements and upholding the rights of the parties to the Boeing case.

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About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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