Top Republicans demand Obama weigh in on Boeing dispute
May 10th, 2011
01:02 PM ET
10 years ago

Top Republicans demand Obama weigh in on Boeing dispute

Washington (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and a group of Republican senators demanded Tuesday that the Obama administration weigh in on the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against Boeing, saying the complaint could jeopardize thousands of South Carolina jobs and the future of free enterprise in the country.

The NLRB complaint alleges that Boeing decided to build a new 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina, a so-called "right-to-work" state, in retaliation against union workers in Washington state who had engaged in past strikes.

NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon is seeking an order to keep that production line in Washington state. Construction on the new Boeing facility in North Charleston, South Carolina is nearing completion.

The Republicans took turns condemning the White House for allowing a board of Democratic appointees to wield control over how American companies do business.

"This is an issue that may have started in South Carolina, but we want to make sure it never touches another state," said Haley, who flew to Washington for the press conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We are demanding that the president respond to what the NLRB has done. This goes against everything we know our American economy to be."

The White House has been largely silent on the matter, saying that the NLRB is "an independent agency" conducting its own enforcement actions.

Haley was joined at the news conference by her state's two Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, as well as South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson and state Attorney General Alan Wilson.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also took turns questioning the NLRB's activities, with Paul going so far as to suggest that the White House has "an enemies list."

Alexander said he plans to finalize language later Tuesday on the "Right to Work Protection Act," which would protect right-to-work states from federal intrusion over labor disputes.

Graham called the NLRB complaint "absurd" and accused the administration of having a double standard toward Boeing because White House chief-of-staff Bill Daley is a former member of the company's board.

And DeMint used some of the toughest language of all, blaming the Obama administration for pushing the NLRB's "thuggery."

"This is something that would happen in a third world county, not in America," DeMint said of the NLRB action. "I can't believe the administration is sitting on the sidelines pretending they had nothing to do with it."

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, called Tuesday's press conference an "overly dramatic response" and accused the GOP of peddling "disturbing misinformation."

“This fight is about far more than just one group of workers in Washington State," Harkin said in a statement. "Unions are one of the few voices left in our society speaking up for the little guy, and if we let powerful CEOs trample all over these rights without consequences, we might as well give up on having a middle class altogether.

"That’s what this all comes down to: powerful corporate interests are pressuring public officials to interfere with an independent agency, rather than let justice run its course," he added.

Filed under: Boeing • Jim DeMint • Lamar Alexander • Lindsey Graham • Nikki Haley • President Obama • Rand Paul • Republicans
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. diridi

    this lady is out.....motels, gas stations, etc,, bust...

    May 10, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. ConservaFASCISTS

    You republicans always gripe about "states rights," well figure this out on your own.

    May 10, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Democrats for a Socialist USA Unite

    STFU and do what the federal government tells you people. The Job Fairness Czar and the Directorate of Union Job Preservation has decided that the free market system needs adjustment to keep our supporters happy and employed. We will tell you in a month or two what employers are allowed to move to your state, if you're nice to us.

    May 10, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Lizzy10

    What about Federal Government being too involved? Why is the Republican Party so two faced about Federal vs States rights? Can't have it both ways, pick a stand and stick with it.

    May 10, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |

    What's with Republicans? They want less government involvement and intervention and yet, as exemplified in the article, they also demand it.

    Bipolar much?

    May 10, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Stephen in Bedford, TX

    These Tea Party folks/Republicans need to make up their minds. Do they want the Obama administration to weigh in on these matters or do they want the free market to determine the proper course?

    May 10, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    What republicans are doing would only be happening in a third world country. You republicans just keep on attacking workers, the middle class, seniors, minorities, teachers, policemen, firemen, public employees, veterans, poor people and the uninsured. That is a sure winner.

    May 10, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Derek

    So, they don't want the President to get involved in, say, the Automobile Industry, Health Care, Wall Street, etc.

    But as soon as their interests are being threaten, all of a sudden, they want the President to get involved.

    May 10, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. malcolm in St Louis

    It is a zero sum game except for the workers who were loyal to Boeing in Seattle. Don't let SC get anymore jobs etc they already have decimated America's middle class with their right to work laws and low minimum wage sucking jobs from States that pay living wages.

    Watch for SC re-introducing slavery so as to "attract" businesses there.

    May 10, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Boeing wants to move production of a new design to South Carolina. The wisdom of this move is dictated purely by the bottom line. Boeing feels that they will find lower production costs in SC, which in turn means higher profits. This is why accountants and business majors should not run businesses.

    With the exception of banks, the most successful businesses in US history have been run not by accountants, but by engineers and others who know the product. In most cases, it was the original designer or creator of the product. Apple to KFC to Ford, this has always been the case. The product is the most important priority for a company, not the profit. If you sell a quality product then the profit will take care of itself.

    So, Boeing is moving production of a new design to a plant to be populated with inexperienced workers. That's good business sense, don't you think?

    May 10, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. kakaraka

    hold it. What the hell is going on here? An independent organization file a complaint to oppose relocation of jobs from Washington state to South carolina, and you wacooss are accusing the President for that? What the president has to do with this? You guys are disgusting. You can't punish washington state people for relocating their jobs. Boeing need to be defunded from federal grants and contracts. Their decisions are politically motivated. So sad tax payers are funding these republicans companies on the back of the american people.

    May 10, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    We demand this, we demand that ......

    YOU work for us, nutjobs. Stop demanding, whining, spinning, lying, and generating hate, fear and propaganda. You want slave wages so that YOUR kick-back will be bigger.

    May 10, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Democrats for a Socialist USA Unite

    It is just a vicious rumor that our comrade Obama has chosen to punish states that oppose him like Texas and South Carolina, while rewarding states that support him. The Commissar of Truth has investigated these rumors and found them to be untrue. We are from the government and you can trust us. Do not be concerned with your own sensibilities. They lie to you.

    May 10, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    You old, white, fat, southern men need to put that foreign woman in her place.

    May 10, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Peggy - TX

    NLRB is "an independent agency" conducting its own enforcement actions utilizing the courts to make a determination based on the facts and the laws. It would be highly inapproprate for the President of the United States to take a public position on a matter now being properly by the courts. The Republicans are again just acting like babies: " WAhaa--How dare we have to abide by the laws of this country and the 50 states and also be subject to legal review ... WAHAAAA".

    May 10, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Greg in Arkansas

    "This is something that would happen in a third world county, not in America," DeMint said.....
    The first step to out-sourcing jobs to another country is to out-source jobs to another state for cheaper wages and to bust unions......then ship the jobs to China.....more profits for stockholders and contributions for GOP candidates

    May 10, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. chill

    Lindsey, I'm missing something. If Daley is a former Boeing Board memebr and is biased toward them, why would the administration NOT step in to reverse a call against Boeing? I have to admit that the complaint seems to be an over reach and hardly the first time that a mega-corp has moved to a right to work state to bust their union, but unless the SC people are too Stupid to read the law, they liley know that the NLRB is an INDEPENDENT agency, not taking direction from the White House or Congress. But then again, thugs don't give a damn what the law says; they just want to get their way.

    May 10, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Larry

    I wish you silly repub's would make up your mind and stop asking the the Presidents's help when it benefits your special interest.

    May 10, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Voice of Reason

    Unions have a place in our world – they are there to allow workers tro collectively bargain, and to protect them from oppresive working conditions.. But The machinist union in WA has really shot themselves in the foot. I live here in WA, and when i see Boeing losing Buh-Zillions of $$ because their 787 is delayed by two years, and it can be traced directly to the union going on strike for better pay when these people are already well-paid in an economy where people are losing jobs left and right – I really can't blame Boeing for going to SC.

    I'm not happy about it, because it means that it will drive my property values even lower at a time when i am trying to sell my house (I dont work for Boeing, or even a union, but this nonsense will cost me Tens of Thousands of dollars, anyway). But they made their bed, and now we all have to lie in it.

    May 10, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Kenny

    If the Obama Administration had chimed into the NLRB ve SC debate then he would have been attacked for sticking his nose into a situation where it was not wanted. Can you say, "Catch 22" or "Dammed if you do and dammed if you don't"?

    May 10, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. XWngLady

    Anything to change the subject from the fact that Pres. Obama is actually running this country relatively-well, despite Republicans' refusal to do anything to help and their incessant lies and attacks....SOUTH CAROLINA IS A ZIT ON THE COLLECTIVE AMERICAN BUTT. And though I'm glad to see a minority woman as Governor, if she's just going to continue the same bad policies that have South Carolina DEAD LAST among states in just about everything, then it really is an empty 'acheivement'.

    May 10, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. A I Morgan

    I thought the tea party and republicans wanted big goverment out of their business

    May 10, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. What the ...

    Corporations won't be happy until they've criminalized the earning of a wage. Then they'll hire people for a few weeks and have them arrested when they ask for their paycheck - or just let the mines collapse and charge the family for burial fees.

    May 10, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Voice of Reason

    The machinist union allows people to get paid more for doing less work. They have that mentaility of, "The union says I dont have to do that, therefore I wont, even if it is in my company's (and hence my own) best interests". They game the system to extract every dime possible and treat the company as 'the enemy'.

    Is it any wonder that the rest of Seattle refers to Boeing as "The Lazy B" ??

    May 10, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    GOP strategery:

    Step 1: Use the Republican Governor's Association to orchestrate a concerted multi-pronged attack on organized labor across several different states in an attempt to destroy one of the Dems' most influential organizations and fundraising support bases and bring the middle-class to its knees to recognize corporate America as their masters, much as the GOP has already done.

    Step 2: Flip the coordinated attack on unions on its head, and project the GOP's behavior onto Obama, blaming Obama for having an "enemies list" (see Randroid's comments from this little farce of a political event) and claiming that there's a massive conspiracy in his administration to tear down anyone or anything that isn't pro-labor and pro-union.

    Step 3: Laugh as the "news" media prints the accusations without an iota of critical thought or factchecking and fails to even once question or criticize it for being pathological nutjobbery and political shenanigans on the part of the GOP.

    Step 4: Profit.

    May 10, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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