Boeing executives are no doubt incredulous in the wake of a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that seeks to prevent the company from locating its second Dreamliner plant in North Charleston, S.C.
Last week’s stunning announcement – a gratuitous attempt by U.S. President Barack Obama to reward his union allies – would represent one of most brazen government intrusions in the free market that we’ve ever seen. If left unchecked, it would not only deprive South Carolina of thousands of jobs – but would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives.
More importantly, it would confer to the federal government veto power over future corporate relocation decisions.
Boeing has called the NLRB complaint “legally frivolous” (which is putting it nicely) and vowed to contest the decision in court. But just how aggressive can the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer be in its battle against the federal government?
There’s an excellent piece in The Washington Examiner which addresses this very subject.
“In its effort to fight back, Boeing could be defanged by its reliance on big government,” columnist Timothy P. Carney writes, adding that Obama’s Export-Import Bank has “subsidized Boeing with nearly $15 billion in loan guarantees in the past two years – roughly three-quarters of all of Ex-Im’s guarantees during that time.”
Obama also tapped Boeing CEO Jim McNerney to run his Export Council, one of several links between the company and the Obama administration that Carney’s column uncovered.
“So now when the Obama administration kneecaps Boeing, bending labor law in order to benefit a labor union that gives more than 95 percent of its money to Democrats, Boeing is vulnerable,” Carney writes. “Can Boeing believably use free-market arguments to defend its right to build planes in whichever factory it wants?”
(To read Carney’s piece in its entirety, click here).
According to a May 2010 report, Boeing’s annual economic impact to South Carolina could be worth more than $6 billion a year. That report also predicted that the company’s presence would create 15,000 permanent jobs in the Palmetto State, 3,800 direct jobs at its production facility and roughly 11,200 “spin-off” jobs. South Carolina is also on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives – including money that has already been borrowed to pay for the construction of the company’s $750 million manufacturing facility.
While Boeing may have to fight Obama with one hand tied behind its back, Palmetto politicians are being plenty aggressive in protecting their investment.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has signaled his intention to grind the U.S. Senate to a standstill if this assault on South Carolina (and other right-to-work states) is not dismissed. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has threatened to de-fund the NLRB if the complaint is not lifted. For her part, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has urged the Republican party’s 2012 presidential candidates to get engaged on the issue.
Meanwhile, the truly unprecedented nature of this decision is beginning to come into focus.
For the first time, the NLRB is claiming that a workers’ right to strike has been infringed upon over an expansion decision – even though Boeing has actually added 2,000 jobs to its unionized Washington state plants since announcing its decision to locate the second Dreamliner facility in South Carolina.
“The (Washington state) workers don’t have any claim to the (new) work,” a former Bush administration labor official told FOX News. “If the workers don’t have any claim to the work, it wasn’t retaliatory to open a new second production line – it (was) simply expanding its business operation.”
Frankly, we believe Boeing has the right to move any of its operations … anywhere, anytime and for any reason. In fact it’s insane that we’re even having to make such a self-evident point in America – which is ostensibly a capitalist country.
Of course with the Obama administration stuffing money into Boeing’s pockets – and the President’s “heavy” Rahm Emanuel calling the shots in Chicago – it’s clear that South Carolina is going to have a major fight on its hands. And while we have every confidence that Boeing will vigorously contest this abominable decision (and that the nation’s courts will ultimately block Obama’s naked pro-union ploy) there will still be a cost.
After all, Obama is sending a clear, unambiguous message to corporations that might consider relocating to South Carolina (or other right-to-work state).