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This April 20, Acting National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Lafe Solomon ignited a public-policy firestorm by filing a complaint against Boeing for initiating a second Dreamliner 787 aircraft production line in Right to Work South Carolina.
In several public statements, Boeing executives had made no bones about the fact that their decision to expand in a Right to Work state was prompted largely by their desire to avoid or at least mitigate multi-billion-dollar revenue losses stemming from disruptive strikes.
Agreeing with International Association of Machinists (IAM/AFL-CIO) union kingpins who had repeatedly ordered employees at Boeing’s west coast facilities out on strike, Mr. Solomon claimed these statements showed Boeing was motivated by “anti-union animus.” Consequently, the South Carolina expansion was illegal, declared Mr. Solomon.
Mr. Solomon’s complaint asked an NLRB administrative law judge to stop Boeing’s South Carolina production.
Former Clinton-Appointed NLRB Chairman: Boeing Complaint Didn’t ‘Make Sense’
Lafe Solomon was installed by President Barack Obama, without the U.S. Senate’s advice or consent, as the NLRB’s top lawyer in 2010. From the beginning, Mr. Solomon’s case against Boeing was highly controversial.
In addition to the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the Right to Work principle, even some well-informed apologists for compulsory unionism openly doubted whether Mr. Solomon really understands federal labor law.
For example, William Gould, the ex-union lawyer who was the Bill Clinton-appointed chairman of the NLRB from 1994 to 1998, summed up the case against Boeing this way:
“The general counsel is trying to equate an employer’s concern with strikes that disrupt production and make it difficult to make deadlines — he’s trying to equate that with hostility toward trade unionism. I don’t think that makes sense.”
In response to such criticism, Mr. Solomon protested that, as he saw it, the evidence Boeing had violated the law was clear-cut. “I feel that I really had no choice [but to file the complaint],” he told a New York Times reporter in late April.
Mr. Solomon appeared then to be merely a tunnel-visioned supporter of compulsory unionism. But now it seems that, besides being an ideologue, he is a fraud.
Mr. Solomon Made a Deal With Boeing, Then Broke It
Internal NLRB documents obtained by the educational group Judicial Watch and made public in November show that early this year Mr. Solomon told Boeing he would not target the company and its South Carolina employees if executives made a multi-year pledge not to lay off any unionized employees working on the 787.
The NLRB’s e-mail communications also show that, just as Mr. Solomon specified, Boeing quickly agreed not to lay off any IAM-controlled employees involved in Dreamliner production prior to the expiration of its existing contract with the IAM hierarchy.
But a few weeks later, Mr. Solomon filed his complaint against Boeing anyway, apparently because IAM agents representing union international President Tom Buffenbarger told him they wanted to extract more from the company than a no lay-off pledge.
“The record shows that, far from believing he ‘had’ to file a case against Boeing, as he claimed in public time and again, as recently as this March Mr. Solomon wasn’t planning to file one,” said Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.
“And the obvious reason he finally decided to go ahead with the case after all wasn’t any purported wrongdoing by the company. Mr. Solomon did what IAM bosses told him to.”
Mr. Mourad continued: “National Right to Work and other like-minded groups quickly exposed the anti-employee and anti-business essence of the Boeing case to the American people. Even Mr. Solomon himself, in another internal NLRB e-mail recently made public, came to quip cynically that the case had ‘screwed up the U.S. economy.’
“Finally, in late November, IAM chiefs, acting without the NLRB’s involvement, cut a deal with Boeing and publicly indicated they wanted the case to go away.
“Now that the IAM puppeteers are finished, the NLRB action against Boeing will likely soon end quietly.
“That’s good news for Right to Work supporters, but unfortunately the fork-tongued Big Labor stooge who brought the case remains entrenched as the powerful NLRB’s top lawyer. That means the next attack on Right to Work can’t be far off.”
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