Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) submitted the following statement for the record for a hearing about the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Charleston, S.C. held by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Statement for the Record
Hearing on "Unionization Through Regulation: The NLRB's Holding Pattern on Free Enterprise"
June 17, 2011
Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today in Charleston. The NLRB's unprecedented action against The Boeing Company is not only vitally important to South Carolina, but to businesses and workers in every state across America.
As an arm of the federal government, the NLRB has an obligation to not only protect union workers, but non-union workers as well. Americans must have the ability to choose whether to join a union or not join a union as a condition of employment. 22 states given employees that choice and the federal government must respect that. Companies also deserve the right to build and expand their businesses where they will have the best chance of economic success. Otherwise, there can be no such thing as free enterprise in this country.
This is why it is so shocking that the NLRB is pursuing a complaint against The Boeing Company for its decision to expand to South Carolina to build Dreamliner airplanes, a move that could create up to 3,800 new jobs in Charleston and allow them to export more of their high-quality American product.
Boeing is an American company creating American jobs. The government has no business dictating where it can build, or who it should employ. If the NLRB continues down this course, thriving American companies will have no choice but to go overseas, depriving Americans of future job opportunities. The government cannot be for jobs if it is actively working against job creators.
Boeing's expansion should be celebrated, not the subject of a federal complaint. These new jobs in Charleston do not come at the expense of those at the first Dreamliner plant in Everett, Washington. In fact, the Everett factory has added more than 2,000 jobs since Boeing announced it would build the Charleston plant. But, because South Carolina is a right to work state, which does not force employees to join a union as a condition of employment, and Washington is a forced unionism state, which does, the NLRB is turning a commonsense business decision into a federal matter.
Acting on behalf of the International Machinists Union and Aerospace Workers, the NLRB's General Counsel has made the baffling determination that what Boeing did is "illegal." In reaching this conclusion, the taxpayer-funded NLRB spent a significant amount of time listening to the complaints of union members who have not lost their jobs and are not at risk of losing their jobs. The NLRB has not given that same consideration to non-union workers in Charleston, who will lose their jobs if the NLRB is successful.
Three of Charleston's Boeing workers filed a request to participate in the lawsuit to make their concerns about job security heard. The NLRB lawyers denied their request, saying "their unnecessary participation would merely delay and complicate these already complex proceedings."
This denial stands in clear contrast of the NLRB's mission to protect employees' rights to act together, with or without a union, to improve working terms and conditions.
The federal government cannot treat non-union jobs as if they are less important than union jobs. All employees must have equal rights under the law and afforded the same protections by their government. The NLRB is not maintaining that balance.
I thank the U.S. House for taking its oversight duties seriously by holding this hearing to discuss the NLRB's case against Boeing. Congress must have a role in making sure the NLRB is staying true to its mission.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has not been given the opportunity to exercise its constitutional duty of "advice and consent" when it comes to political appointments made to the NLRB.
The NLRB's Acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon, was appointed to serve a full four-year term on January 2011. The Senate still has not been able to vet him. Mr. Solomon has not appeared for a Senate confirmation hearing, nor has he been subjected to a full Senate confirmation vote.
Craig Becker, a former lawyer for the Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO, was given a recess appointment to become one of the five members of the NLRB's powerful board over widespread, bipartisan objections in the Senate to his nomination. In fact, the Senate rejected his nomination in February 2010. Yet, a month later, he was recess appointed by the President.
Today's hearing is necessary. I thank the Chairman again for his diligence and attention to this matter and hope the witnesses provide the public with more clarity about where the NLRB's priorities lie and whether that is in the best interest of America's workforce, union and non-union alike.