Top Republicans demand Obama weigh in on Boeing dispute
May 10th, 2011
01:02 PM ET
9 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. obama victim

    way to go Boeing.....

    May 10, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. cf

    So, if I understand this correctly: Republicans constantly hem and haw about government intrusion and how it should be smaller and stay out of people's affairs, and how corporations should have the right to do whatever they want without regulation.... Until a situation comes up that directly affects them or their home district, then they want a big government to step in and tell a company what it can or can't do? Beautiful.

    May 10, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |

    Did the new governor of SC really say that she DEMANDS the President of the United States intervene? Incredible and arrogant remarks from these rethugs who usually are saying "less/smaller" government, but now there is something not to their liking. typcial

    May 10, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. gt

    i am not surprise that any company wants to move from washington state.... let the states compete each other....i am sure the people of south carolina would love those jobs... sounds like a pattern going on.. amtrac.. money to blue states .. boeing being cut out of south carolina....

    May 10, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. The Other Dale

    So evidently Republicans can't do anything on their own and have to go crying to Papa Obama whenever they have a problem. Hmm. Sure wish Republicans would grow up and actively do something instead of throwing tantrums.

    May 10, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Linda

    Excuse me? Isn't this something that the governor of South Carolina should be responsible for? What about what these republicans and the Tea Party have been saying? That there's too much government in our lives. You can't have it both ways.

    May 10, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. MAC

    Obama in the 08 campaighn showed his liberal elite credentials so anyone with an open mind knows that the NLRB has Obama's blessing. When the heads of Labor Unions have been in the White House more than any other group shows the President's "Special Interest: preference! If the Liberal Elite had their way we would all have to join a Union and they would skim off the top like the thugs do now.

    May 10, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. sharkshaft

    The president is such a joke. He's starting to be as embarrassing of a president as W was.

    May 10, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Russ

    There definitely needs to be some accountability for this action, but.....Haley is carrying more baggage than all the boeing airplanes they could ever build there. When is miss transperancy going to be held accountable for all her behind the scenes deals, lies and affairs. I've never seen people elect such a crook into office, especially after just gettting rid of one.

    May 10, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Rich

    This story may impact the national election and is worth watching closely. Either way now, the Administration will be placed in an awkward situation of either doing nothing – and seeing this issue explode – or stepping in against NLRB and Union pressure.

    May 10, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. normajean

    Our president is hit from all sides demanding that this or that be taken care of immediately., and gets nothing but complaints no matter what he does. I say South Carolina, take care of yourselves just as any other state is expected to do.We all have problems and Obama is still trying to clean up the mess left by the Repubs.....The Tea partiers are always screaming for less government until they want something and's a loud call for government help..!!

    May 10, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. Enough is Enough

    Obama is not allowed to talk about this issue until his bosses at the AFL-CIO and SEIU give him permission to. Obama screwed over the taxpayers for the UAW why not do the same for Boeing's share holders. How many fewer airliners will Boeing sell because it is less compepitive?

    May 10, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Clyde

    Isnt that what the NLRB is charged with? To oversee just this kind of activity by Boeing? Or, they could let Boeing move to SC then the Feds could just stop doing business with them.

    May 10, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. AEJ

    BIG Government eh? How comes these Republicans want BIG GOVERNMENT intervention? This is laughable.

    May 10, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. C. Howe Yulikit

    Gotta love Republican logic. The Government should stay out of business people's way, unless the business people can benefit from the Government's intervention. Laissez Faire becomes Lazy and Unfair.

    May 10, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. fayse

    The Tea party newly elected congress etc. appear to be looking so hard for mud to throw at President that, if they can't find anything ligitimate they just invent something. Really Rand Paul and his "enemies list" just proves what a nut job he is.

    May 10, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Bob in PA

    Who cares ! Boeing has a right to do what they want. If they can't find favorable conditions in one state, they have a right to set up in another. Or you can just let things continue as they are, and allow the Union hacks to force another company to leave the country.

    May 10, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Dirk Wladon

    Damn it man! I use to love Boeing for all its sucess and I supported them in their fight to win the Air Force Tanker (767) aircraft. But to support any job gain in South Carolina backward 'Republican state, I am solely against. I am not a union supporter either, just anti South Carolina racist non supporter.

    May 10, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Bruce

    Aw, poor South Carolina, those ill prepared, less then average, ....scabs, it's a crying shame when the whole of a party (GOP) are anti-union, it shows how the wealthy and their propaganda has worked so well on Americans, as one that is NOT an idiot, I can tell you that unions are the reason we have 8 hr work days, unions are why we have overtime, unions are why we have 40 hr work week, also in the 20s and 30s are the reason America became great, they were into women's rights, and child labor laws, later in the 50s and 60s fought hard with African Americans civil rights. All a union man want is a fair chance in talks, right to bargain, and safe work area, only a republican would be AGAINST those rights, Boeing is wrong here, they are a good company because they have made quality items, now, built buy less educated scabs??? I will start to worry more about it, you fly in a non-union built plane, heck, I don't drive japanese cars for same reason, they're built below Mason-Dixon line, so their cheap, just like your new planes will be, scab built, I want the assembly guy doing his job after a break, then some poor scab worrying about his kids teeth because he make $11.50 an

    May 10, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. dubblek2

    This is what happens when one state tries to steal jobs from another state – at the expense of the wage earners in both states...

    May 10, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Geoffrey

    Oh Nikki needs the Presidents help? Maybe she should not have been such a phony demogogue? Stand in line with Rick Perry. When you lie, and spew ... it comes back on you. Too bad for the people of her state.

    May 10, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Name

    Damn he do and damn he don't!

    May 10, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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