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No 'Legislative Pardon' for Boeing's Violation of the National Labor Relations Act

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The Education and Workforce Committee today held a hearing to examine a bill that is effectively a 'legislative pardon' for Boeing management for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. (For a legal background of the Boeing case, click here.)

This bill is wrong on so many fronts. It interferes with an active case where the employer has already been found by the NLRB (Acting General Counsel) to have openly violated federal law. It gives that employer a legislative pardon. It destroys the very concept of equal justice before the law and equal protection of the law. It is an attack on the First Amendment rights of workers to free speech and it destroys their right to a legal remedy. It has Constitutional questions that involve the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments. It tramples on the rights of workers who, consistent with their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, who have legally protected right to strike and they are punished for it, punished by having their jobs moved out of state.

This legislation doesn't just pit workers in South Carolina against workers in Washington State, and pit our colleagues against each other, but it pits the Congress against all workers by essentially striking any remedy for egregious violation.

This legislation undermines the rights of American workers to defend their right to organize, to defend their right to collective bargaining, to defend their right to strike, to defend their right to decent wages and benefits, to defend their right to a retirement and to defend their right to a safe workplace.

It diminishes the standing of all workers. The bill is bad for business because the essential relationship of cooperation between business and labor which is needed in our economy is destroyed by stopping a remedy. It accelerates an adversarial relationship. It sets a precedent for Congress to intervene in other regulatory matters of this sort.

We would not be here if Boeing had not violated the National Labor Relations Act and punished its workers for lawfully protected activity. The punishment that workers received was moving jobs from one area of the country to another.

This bill represents an extraordinary intervention in an ongoing legal process. We have to ask; is Boeing seeking this? Is Boeing seeking a legislative pardon for its violation of the law?

Boeing workers only had three strikes in twenty years and they were on issues of great consequence; health care benefits, pension benefits. One strike was because they wanted to spend more time with their families on weekends; they didn't want to be forced to work on the weekends. Let's talk about family values.

We know that Boeing executives have said that moving the Dreamliner to South Carolina was due to strikes happening every three to four years and that the decision was made in order to reduce Boeing's vulnerability to delivery disruptions caused by work stoppages. That is bogus.

This was caused by mismanagement of the 787 project where the Dreamliner was subject to a vendor system that was spread around the globe, because of a vendor system that was out of control because of poor quality controls within that vendor system, and because of parts that didn't fit.   The U.S. workers didn't have anything to do with it.

This is managers scapegoating workers in order to try to duck questions by their investors. We really have to look at what we are doing here; Boeing has wanted to put the blame on the workers for delay and development of its Dreamliner. This is a question of Boeing management, and this Congress should want Boeing to succeed, but not by undermining its workforce which is the best in the world.

We need an American First manufacturing policy where the maintenance of aerospace, steel, automotive, and shipping is deemed to be vital to our national security and we need to protect American workers along with that by protecting their basic rights to enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act. This law devastates their right to recovery.

We should be concerned about protecting American jobs, protecting America's basic industries and protecting America's basic workers. We should be concerned about taking a stand for America.   This legislation is not mindful of that and we need to strike it down.

See video from the hearing here.

 

Dennis Kucinich is former US Congressman and two-time presidential candidate from Ohio who served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Visit his website at  KucinichAction

Follow him on Twitter at @Dennis_Kucinich

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