Boeing complaint hurts jobs, state officials say

16 attorneys general oppose lawsuit

COLUMBIA --- Attorneys general from more than a dozen states Thursday weighed in on a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board, alleging its complaint against Boeing Co. for building a South Carolina assembly plant after a strike by Washington state workers hurts states' abilities to keep manufacturing jobs.


Alan Wilson and Greg Abbott, the attorneys general in South Carolina and Texas respectively, asserted in a brief that "the NLRB's proposed action will harm the interests of the very unionized workers whom the general counsel's Complaint seeks to protect."

"State policymakers should be free to choose to enact right-to-work laws -- or to choose not to enact them -- without worrying about retaliation from the NLRB," the two officials wrote. "It is logical that some employers will simply avoid creating new jobs or facilities in non-right-to-work States in the first place."

A spokeswoman for the NLRB declined to comment.

The filing represents the latest effort by Republicans to take aim at the NLRB over its action against Boeing. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been hammering away at the issue and insisting GOP presidential candidates do the same, and a California congressman said Wednesday he would bring a House oversight committee to South Carolina this month to focus on how the NLRB's "actions against Boeing could impact the thousands of Boeing employees at a nonunion worksite in South Carolina,"

The 16 attorneys general -- all but one of whom are Republicans -- oppose the lawsuit filed in April by the NLRB claiming Boeing located a new 787 passenger aircraft assembly line in South Carolina to retaliate against Washington state union workers who went on strike in 2008.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state where individual employees can join unions voluntarily, but unions cannot force membership across entire worksites.

The NLRB wants that work returned to Washington state, even though the company has already built the new South Carolina plant and hired 1,000 workers.

Union advocates argue the NLRB is merely doing its job of enforcing the nation's labor laws.

Chicago-based Boeing disputes the board's allegations that it violated labor laws and says that stopping work on 787s in South Carolina would be impermissibly punitive.

The company has also taken issue with the labor board's claim that the company removed or transferred any work from its Puget Sound facility, saying all the work in South Carolina will be new and that no union member has lost a job over the action. Since the decision to open the South Carolina plant, the attorneys general wrote, Boeing has actually added more than 2,000 union jobs in Washington state.

An administrative law judge in Seattle is set to hear the case next week.

The brief was signed by attorneys general in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. The brief points out the attorneys represent both right-to-work and unionized states, although only two of the signers -- Colorado and Michigan -- fall into the latter category.