The National Labor Relations Board is attempting to enforce our country’s laws and the corporate conservatives are going nuts – literally. They are challenging the concept of law itself, while making wild claims of conspiracies by government against business itself. Yikes!
The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Boeing for retaliating against employees for legitimate union activities. Boeing opened a 787 assembly line in “right-to-work” South Carolina that they had previously stated would go to Washington State, after repeatedly having to grant concessions to union workers in Washington State. Opening an assembly line is not illegal, of course, but doing so in retaliation for union activities or for the purpose of threatening a union is illegal.
The key to the NLRB action is that Boeing executives said repeatedly they were opening the South Carolina plant because of union activities. They boasted they were breaking the law, and finally someone has dared to enforce the law.
The International Associaltion of Machinists and Aerospace Workers complaint states that a Boeing executive stated Boeing was “diversifying Boeing’s labor pool” to South Carolina due to “strikes happening every three to four years.” The complaint cites several other instances of Boeing officials stating the reason for opening the South Carolina assembly line was because of union activities, as well as threatening the union with losing work in Washington state because of union activities.
The idea of the NLRB enforcing the nation’s laws again, after decades of Reagan/Bush/Bush non-enforcement, has caused corporate heads to explode. The corporate right says the NLRB complaint is an example of “the federal government dictating private business decisions.”
Yes, exactly. That is what law is: government dictating private business decisions.
What Is Law?
Law is “government dictating private business decisions.” That’s pretty much the definition of what law is. Telling a company they can’t dump toxic waste into rivers, can’t steal from customers, etc. are all examples of “government dictating private business decisions.”
Law is government — We, the People — telling people and companies what they can and cannot do. So by complaining about “government dictating private business decisions” it appears the Boeing and the corporate right have a problem with law and government itself. “Being told what they can and cannot do” is what government and law enforcement are for.
The right to form a union and engage in legitimate union activities without fear of retaliation or intimidation is the law in the US, and in every state.
This is now about integrity of the law enforcement process. Boeing and the corporate right are attacking law enforcement itself. And so we are treated with the spectacle of the lawbreakers getting headlines attacking the law-enforcement agency.
This crowd has gotten used to telling government what to do, and now here comes government actually daring to try to enforce a law — telling them what to do instead of the other way around — and they just can’t f&%king believe it! They clearly do not accept it.
What The Law Is
Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) in 1935. It’s the law.
Take a look at Section 1 of the NLRA. In summary, it says that lack of bargaining power by workers against corporations leads to Depressions (we call them recessions now) because of depressed purchasing power. And it leads to strikes, which disrupt commerce. Therefore, it is the policy of the United States to encourage collective bargaining.
According to NLRB :
The NLRA protects the rights of employees to:
Form or join a union Bargain collectively for a contract that sets wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions Discuss wages, working conditions or union organizing with co-workers or a union Act with co-workers to improve working conditions by raising complaints with an employer or a government agency Strike and picket their employer, depending on the purpose or means of the action Choose not to join a union or engage in union activities Organize coworkers to decertify a union
If employees choose a union as their bargaining representative, the union and employer must bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a binding agreement setting out terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent employees in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.
Employers may not:
Prohibit employees from discussing a union during non-work time, or from distributing union literature during non-work time in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms Question employees about their union support or activities in a manner that discourages them from engaging in that activity Fire, demote, transfer, reduce hours or take other adverse action against employees who join or support a union or act with co-workers for mutual aid and protection, or who refuse to engage in such activity Threaten to close their workplace if employees form or join a union Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support Prohibit employees from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings
Companies can not threated employees for trying to form a union, and companies cannot retaliate against employees for having a union. That. Is. The. Law.
Corporate Right Going Nuts
The big corporations have gotten used to having things their way. In response to having their unquestioned authority over government and law itself challenged by this NLRB action the corporate right is apoplectic.
Not only is the corporate right challenging the very idea of law itself, complaining about “government dictating private business decisions,” but they are doubling down on the nutty stuff. The Heritage Foundation, in NLRB Comes to Big Labor’s Defense, for example, goes off the deep end, into Glenn Beck territory, claiming that the NLRB is engaged in a conspiracy to make companies “even harder to manage.”
The Washington Examiner reports that a leaked NLRB memo “makes clear that President Obama and the radical labor advocates he put on it are embarked on a calculated campaign to make unionized firms even harder to manage.” The memo, which was obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and James Sherk, “shows that the board seeks to elevate union officials to equal partners with executives in corporate boardrooms of all unionized firms.” The Examiner continues:
The memo instructs NLRB regional operatives to flag all cases in which unionized firms made relocation decisions without submitting detailed economic justifications to their unions. The board plans “case-by-case” reviews, followed by prosecutions of selected cases. The intended consequence is that all major business decisions will become subject to approval by unions.
Nutty, indeed, claiming that there is a conspiracy by government that has “embarked on a calculated campaign to make unionized firms even harder to manage.” That’s Glenn Beck territory.
Who Is In Charge?
This comes down to a simple question: who is in charge here? Is it We, the People, or the giant corporations who consider themselves above the law, and in control of the government?
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Corporate/Conservative Heads Explode As NLRB Actually Enforces Law
Does Government Know Who The Boss Is?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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