Across the country, from Wisconsin to Ohio, Republican governors are battling Big Labor. Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, in an interview with National Review Online, says that her state is the next front. But Haley’s foes are not graybeard professors or drum-banging state workers; she is facing off against bureaucratic activists in Washington, D.C.
The National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency dominated by President Obama’s appointees, is attempting to block Boeing from building jets in Charleston, S.C. By producing planes in a nonunion plant thousands of miles from its base in Everett, Wash., the NLRB alleges that Boeing is retaliating against the strike-happy machinists in Puget Sound.
Boeing, which has poured billions into the new facility, calls the agency’s complaint “legally frivolous.” Haley, for her part, is baffled by how the feds think that they can kick around a private company, picking and choosing where it operates. “There is no case; this is ridiculous,” she says. “It is an embarrassment for the NLRB. The unions are losing and this is nothing more than a desperate attempt to see if they can make their voices relevant again.”
But it is, Haley asserts, a “national fight,” with political implications for both parties. “I am going to fight this every step of the way,” she says. “We absolutely will not accept the bullying. This is a direct assault on right-to-work states.” In the coming days, the governor will urge the president — and the Republicans hoping to beat him in 2012 — to take sides.
Haley challenges President Obama to rally behind her. “I want to ask him why he is allowing unelected bureaucrats to come in and do the unions’ dirty work on the backs of our businesses,” she says. “It’s hurting the jobs in South Carolina and every other right-to-work state. He owes us an answer.”
If the president does not back up Boeing, Haley argues that companies may decide to move their manufacturing overseas, since the president would be viewed by corporate leaders as someone who has little interest in protecting free enterprise. “He must stand up and fight for companies that want to do business in this country,” she says. “This slows down business in our country.”
Obama is not the only one catching heat from the first-term Republican. Haley notes that the NLRB brawl will be a litmus test for GOP presidential contenders. “Every presidential candidate needs to weigh in on what is happening with NLRB and Boeing,” she says. “I would expect the presidential candidates to speak up, to say that this is wrong, and also to go further than that: to say what they would do to make it right.”