I can’t tell you how many business leaders have approached me over the past month to express their disbelief, and in some cases outrage, that the NLRB would so blatantly misuse its power by issuing a complaint requiring Boeing to open a second 787 facility in the state of Washington. The NLRB claims the complaint is to remedy what it calls an illegal transfer of work to non-union facilities in North Charleston. In reality, Boeing did what any responsible company in its situation would do — locate in the most manufacturing-friendly place possible. The NLRB should enforce the law as it is written — not as dictated by organized labor.
Here in South Carolina, we enjoy a right-to-work status that makes our state very attractive to companies considering where to locate. Currently, 22 states have right-to-work laws that protect the rights of workers not to be forced to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Right-to-work states must protect that tradition, which is under attack as union numbers continue to drastically decline.
The last thing we need is for the union to force the same formula on South Carolina that helped bring Detroit to its knees. In fact, the formula we have is working just fine. Consider this. The auto industry has created 85,000 full-time jobs across the state. Many are available thanks to international automotive plants in places like Greer, Timmonsville, Spartanburg and throughout South Carolina. We are fortunate to be such a sought-after location for successful manufacturers to bring new jobs to South Carolina. And, it is important to note that at the same time that South Carolina was developing these 85,000 new jobs, UAW members were losing almost 1.2 million throughout the U.S.
Global manufacturing facilities have been an important lifeline for the Palmetto State, providing steady jobs and benefits even while tens of thousands of manufacturing workers in other states were forced to collect unemployment checks. Manufacturing is often credited as the leading opportunity for future economic growth in the state, which means South Carolina is doing something right.
According to Doug Woodward, an economist at the University of South Carolina, “If you want to create jobs, this is the way to do it.”
He’s right: We’ve recently heard that expanded manufacturing facilities are on the way. But the continued protection of our state’s right-to-work law, which gives employees the legal right to decide whether or not they’d like to join a union, is paramount to increasing jobs.
Maintaining right-to-work helps ensure that companies continue to believe it makes sense to set up shop in South Carolina, because their employees won’t be pressured or intimidated to join a union. The truth is, we don’t need unions to increase jobs, provide competitive wages, establish open and collaborative working environments and, ultimately, support ongoing economic growth. Companies across the state are already doing it just fine on their own.
For the past two years, we have seen the Obama administration’s special treatment of unions, from mandating that federal contractors use only union labor, to exempting them from the crippling mandates of Obamacare, to appointing union officials to top posts within federal agencies that have responsibility for workplace issues.
Now we see these appointed officials doing everything they can to rebuild union membership. The NLRB decision regarding Boeing is a perfect example.
And while South Carolinians certainly have the right to join a union, few actually do. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, few states have lower union membership than South Carolina.
That alone sends a strong message: We don’t want non-unionized companies taking their jobs somewhere else. Let’s make sure we keep those jobs coming — and keep the unions from forcing them out.