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By Lawrence E. Dube
The House Sept. 15 voted 238-186 mostly along party lines to limit the authority of the National Labor Relations Board to restore, reinstate, relocate, or transfer employment as a remedy for an employer's unfair labor practice under federal labor law.
After a morning of debate in which Republicans charged that an NLRB administrative complaint against Boeing Co. threatened to chill job creation in the United States, the House passed the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587), which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to prevent the board from seeking or issuing orders that would require employers to rescind subcontracting, outsourcing, and other transfers of work or to make investments at a particular plant, facility, or location.
Democrats argued the bill would allow employers to punish workers for exercising their rights under federal labor law and would block the ability of NLRB to order a meaningful remedy against Boeing or any other company in cases where employers violate the substantive provisions of the NLRA.
The bill was supported by 230 Republicans and eight Democrats, while 179 Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the measure.
The measure was introduced July 19 by Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in response to NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe E. Solomon's authorization of an unfair labor practice complaint against Boeing Co. (29 HRR 823, 8/1/11).
Based on an allegation by International Association of Machinists District Lodge 751 in Seattle, the acting general counsel's complaint alleges that the company established a second assembly line for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft at a nonunion facility in North Charleston, S.C., in violation of the NLRA.
The complaint asserts that the company chose to add production capabilities there rather than in Seattle in order to retaliate against the Washington employees for their prior support of lawful IAM-sponsored strikes conducted in support of union bargaining demands.
An NLRB administrative law judge opened a hearing in Seattle in June on the unfair labor practice complaint. The ALJ denied the company's motion to dismiss the administrative complaint, but the ALJ has been confronted by a number of procedural issues and has not yet heard the substance of the unfair labor practice allegations against Boeing.
Republicans and business groups asserted that the complaint represented governmental “overreaching” into a corporate business decision, and some Republicans alleged the NLRB action against Boeing was taken to assist organized labor because of its support for President Obama and Democrats.
Solomon has insisted since the issuance of the complaint that the action was based on the facts and existing board law. The NLRB official said in a statement Sept. 15 his decision “had absolutely nothing to do with political considerations,” adding “the White House had no involvement in the decision to issue a complaint in this case.”
If enacted, the bill passed by the House would restrict the board's authority in all unfair labor practice proceedings, but also could affect the aircraft manufacturer's ongoing NLRB case, because it would apply to any unfair labor practice complaint that has not been the subject of a “final adjudication” by the date of the statute's enactment.
Business and labor groups quickly offered their reactions to House passage of the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act.
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement, “Today's bipartisan House vote clearly demonstrates that Congress believes the NLRB has overreached and needs to be stopped.”
But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “Instead of creating good jobs, Tea Party Republicans are wasting time and playing partisan politics.”
“H.R. 2587 is an over-reaching, special interest bill that advances the interests of corporate donors while attacking working people, their rights and their jobs. It's one more example of an anti-worker agenda that's bad for America and bad for the middle class,” Trumka said.
By Lawrence E. Dube
Text of H.R. 2587 can be accessed at http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/r?Open=ldue-8lqnvf .
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