Once again Boeing, Inc., is using its massive lobbying power to get what it wants and does not want from Congress. What it wants from Congress in a nutshell is its own special Congressional bill that will allow it to override an unfavorable decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
What Boeing does not want from Congress is a special investigation into its recent contract to construct a border virtual wall, a contract worth more than one billion dollars. For more than one billion dollars the American taxpayer, in spite of a ton of Boeing promises, got just 25 communications towers near Nogales, Arizona, which have never performed as required. Instead Boeing wants us to forget it wasted one billion dollars in taxpayer money to focus on the mean old union that it claims is pushing Boeing around. The facts prove otherwise.
Last April the NLRB, after reviewing all the evidence presented to it by both Boeing and the union, declared Boeing could not operate a factory it had built in South Carolina. According to the NLRB, Boeing built the factory in direct retaliation to its unionized employees who participated in five strikes since 1977. In effect, the NLRB ruled that Boeing could not penalize its employees’ union for participating in legal walk-outs: Boeing executives specifically stated that the company was going to build a new factory in South Carolina instead of Washington state as punishment for workers going on strike.
Remember that in our democracy the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not allow any corporation to fire workers because of their federally protected rights to be union members and to participate in strikes. The NLRA also prohibits companies from relocating plants and factories to other states to punish workers who are exercising their legally protected rights.
Boeing did not like the NLRB decision so it lobbied the Republican led House long and hard. The result of all Boeing’s lobbying dollars is the House bill “Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act” which essentially prohibits the NLRB for any reason from ordering a corporation to relocate a plant. Just like Boeing in South Carolina.
What makes this House bill, supported by eight Democrats, a particular travesty is that the Boeing case is still pending. So Boeing is the real bully here, in effect demonstrating that it is too enormous to be every be legally in error: if Boeing loses a decision before a federal agency, it will simply change the law in its favor.
The true irony here is that Boeing, Inc., just recently wasted one billion dollars in failing to construct a virtual border fence. Again, Boeing acted as if it was above the law, that it was not responsible for completing the work awarded it under contract by the Department of Homeland Security. Instead Boeing has claimed since 2006-and still does-that the virtual wall was a success in spite of various reports to the contrary by the Government Accountability Office and other federal agencies.
So within less than eight months Boeing earns one billion dollars from the federal government it does not deserve to keep and, at the same time, convinces the House that a union is a wicked bully.
Despite Boeing’s protests to the contrary, there is only one bully here, an American corporation that acts and believes that it is too big to follow the rules everyone else must follow. Boeing should be held accountable for the missing one billion dollars even as the legal decisions by the National Labor Relations Board should be left standing in regard to Boeing’s charges against the union.
Since when in this country does being a big business never mean being wrong? And how much effort has Boeing spent keeping Congress from taking a closer look at a wasted one billion dollars?
Steven Greenhouse, “In Boeing Case, House Passes Bill Restricting Labor Board”, page B3, The New York Times, 9/16/11.