Law professors lash out at Republican challenge over Boeing complaint

Professors say Republicans put labor rights at risk, attack complaint by identifying three myths

After the National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon filed a complaint against Boeing in April, Republicans quickly rose up to criticize the board. Last week, labor law professors Mark Barenberg at Columbia, James Brudney at Fordham and Karl Klare at Northeastern University retaliated, saying the Republican accusations are unfounded in an op-ed in The New York Times.

An ongoing case, the NLRB claimed the aircraft manufacturer opened a nonunion production facility in South Carolina, a state unfriendly to labor unions, to punish unionized workers and retaliate against the ones who participated in a strike, as well as prevent future strikes.

Republicans seized the opportunity to attack the democratic NLRB, but professors Barenberg, Brudney and Klare point out the Republican perspective is based on three myths:

  1. General counsel introduced a new legal rule
  2. Because of the complaint, the government can determine where businesses build facilities
  3. The general counsel is allowed to drop the case because of economic policy

According to the op-ed, the case uses nothing legally new—Boeing can legally locate its production anywhere and for any reason (except retaliatory ones), and the general counsel’s discretion is only confined to enforcing the policies in the National Labor Relations Act.

Still, the professors note that Republicans continue to keep a watchful eye on the complaint and are intent on threatening decades-old workers’ rights.

Boeing will have the opportunity to disprove allegations and prevent moving aircraft production back to Washington.

Click here to read the professors’ op-ed piece.

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