S.C. gets Boeing support: 15 attorneys general join Wilson in filing brief; 3 local workers denied role in fighting lawsuit
COLUMBIA -- Attorneys general from South Carolina and 15 other states Thursday weighed in on a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that its complaint against Boeing for building an assembly plant in North Charleston after a strike by Washington state workers hurts states' abilities to keep manufacturing jobs.
Alan Wilson and Greg Abbott, the attorneys general in South Carolina and Texas, respectively, asserted in a brief that "the NLRB's proposed action will harm the interests of the very unionized workers whom the general counsel's Complaint seeks to protect."
"State policymakers should be free to choose to enact right-to-work laws
-- or to choose not to enact them -- without worrying about retaliation from the NLRB," the two officials wrote.
"It is logical that some employers will simply avoid creating new jobs or facilities in non-right-to-work States in the first place."
A spokeswoman for the NLRB declined to comment on the brief.
The brief also was signed by attorneys general in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
It points out that the attorneys general represent right-to-work and unionized states, although only two of the signers -- Colorado and Michigan -- fall into the latter category.
The filing represents the latest effort by Republicans to take aim at the NLRB over its action against Boeing.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been hammering away at the issue and insisting that GOP presidential candidates do the same, and a California congressman said Wednesday he would bring a House oversight committee to North Charleston next Friday to focus on how the NLRB's "actions against Boeing could impact the thousands of Boeing employees at a nonunion worksite in South Carolina."
The 16 attorneys general, 15 of whom are Republicans, oppose the lawsuit filed in April by the NLRB claiming that Boeing built a new 787 passenger aircraft assembly line in North Charleston to retaliate against Washington state union workers who went on strike in 2008.
South Carolina is a right-to-work state where individual employees can join unions voluntarily, but unions cannot force membership across entire worksites.
Lafe Solomon, the NLRB's acting general counsel, wants that work returned to Washington state, even though the company already has built the $750 million plant and hired 1,000 workers.
Union advocates argue that the NLRB is merely doing its job of enforcing the nation's labor laws.
Boeing disputes the board's allegations that it violated labor laws, and said that stopping work on 787s here would be impermissibly punitive because it would effectively shut it down.
The company also has taken issue with the labor board's claim that the company removed or transferred any work from its Puget Sound facility, saying all the work in North Charleston will be new and that no union member has lost a job over the action.
Since the decision to open the local plant, the attorneys general wrote, Boeing has added more than 2,000 union jobs in Washington state.
Separately, a judge has denied a request by three local Boeing workers seeking to formally join and fight the lawsuit.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represents the employees, said it would immediately appeal NLRB Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson's ruling from late Wednesday.
Boeing plans to mark the completion of its North Charleston plant at a ceremony today.