The Labor Divide

by Sam Staley

The Obama administration’s overbearing pro-labor policies might become a signature issue for the presidential election. After all, Obama appointees were the key to the recent National Labor Relations Board’s decision to prosecute Boeing for being antiunion because it had the audacity to open a new plant in business-friendly South Carolina rather than the high-cost, strike-riddled Seattle, Wash. That’s even after Boeing had added thousands of workers in Seattle. Damon Root has an excellent summary of the stakes in a article “Unfair Labor Practices.” As Damon writes:

Take a moment to let that sink in. The federal government would override Boeing’s business decision and force the company to set up shop where it commands. Also keep in mind that Boeing hasn’t fired a single unionized employee in Washington or shifted a single piece of existing union work out of state. In fact, the company has added an additional 2,000 union jobs in Washington since announcing its plans for the South Carolina facility last year and says it plans on hiring more. Not exactly an anti-union jihad.

And while those comments from senior management about striking workers were perhaps ill-advised from a public relations standpoint, they were hardly groundless. As Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson declared after the 2008 work stoppage, “if union leaders and management can’t get their act together to avoid strikes, we’re not going to come back here again. We’re already thinking, ‘would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?’ It’s that serious.

Historically, the NLRB’s decision harkens back to the 1950s, when socialism ran amok as labor governments seized the commanding heights of economies throughout Europe. The consequences were economically devastating. This issue should be seized upon by pro–limited government presidential candidates as a signature political issue that distinguishes their governing philosophies from Obama’s.

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