South Carolina is what’s known as a “right to work” state -- meaning workers can’t be forced to join a union. Twenty-two states have “right to work” laws safeguarding employees’ rights to decide for themselves whether to join, or financially support, a union.
Our law protecting workers from unions is considered a major plus for our state economy. In fact, it has recently been credited as one of the reasons Boeing chose our state for a new 787 Dreamliner assembly plant.
Unfortunately, if the Obama administration has its way, Boeing would be forced to scrap its plans for a South Carolina plant, taking jobs away from more than a thousand South Carolinians. The National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency, is taking legal action against Boeing by challenging its decision to build a plant in South Carolina.
You see, Washington State is a heavily unionized state that is home to an existing Boeing facility. At the Boeing plant there, unions routinely mount strikes -- organized work stoppages --that disrupt production of Boeing aircraft. Those disruptions include a two-month work stoppage in 2008 which cost Boeing nearly $1.8 billion.
The federal government now says Boeing’s decision to put its new assembly plant in a right-to-work state constitutes unlawful “retaliation” against unions in Washington. It wants to block the opening of the South Carolina plant and force Boeing to build the aircraft in Washington State, rather than in South Carolina.
It’s important to note that Boeing’s decision to build a plant in South Carolina does not mean it will cease operations in Washington … simply that it will build a new assembly plant in South Carolina, which has a very supportive business environment. The Washington facility will continue to operate.
To many observers, it’s the Obama administration’s complaint against Boeing that has the markings of political “retaliation.” It’s no secret that Washington D.C. has taken a sharp left turn in recent years, and unions are a favored constituency of politicians on the left. This kind of “red meat” action against a right-to-work state would allow the Obama administration to cater to unions -- which make hefty donations to Democratic candidates -- at the expense of South Carolina, which is a state that tends to lean Republican.
To justify its complaint against Boeing, the federal government has disingenuously pointed to an obscure 1935 law -- the Wagner Act -- which makes it unlawful for an employer to “interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization.”
But the Supreme Court has since issued rulings affirming the rights of businesses to open production facilities wherever businesses see fit. Besides, it’s just common sense.
President Obama has been asked to weigh in. He could stop this madness if he chooses. At the time of this writing, he’s chosen to remain silent on this issue -- and his silence has been deafening, especially in our state.
The federal government’s transparent action against a right-to-work state must be stopped. If the President fails to intercede, the next time he comes to South Carolina he must called to task for the attempts of his hand-picked appointees on the National Labor Relations Board to cost South Carolinians jobs.