Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the GOP’s No. 1 Obama administration attack dog, has bitten down hard on the dispute between the National Labor Relations Board and Boeing and doesn’t appear to be letting go anytime soon.
Issa issued a subpoena to the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon August 7 as part of its investigation into the merits of the NLRB action against the Boeing Company. The subpoena compels the NLRB to comply with earlier document requests submitted in May with a deadline of noon Aug. 12.Republicans, including Issa, have seized on the NRLB’s complaint against Boeing’s decision to open a non-union manufacturing plant in South Carolina. The case has become an early flashpoint in the 2012 campaign with Republicans charging the Obama administration with penalizing a major U.S. aerospace company and creating more incentives for U.S. companies to relocate or send jobs overseas when the No. 1 priority in the country should be creating jobs and recharging the flagging economy.
“NLRB’s action in the case against Boeing has the potential to create a job-killing precedent just as U.S. manufacturers are working toward economic recovery,” Issa said in a statement Monday. “That a Washington, D.C.-based bureaucracy could dictate the work location and parameters for a world-leading company is unprecedented in a global economy and hobbles a leading American job creator at a time of economic vulnerability.”
In April, the NRLB filed a complaint against Boeing’s decision to build an assembly plant for the new 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, S.C., alleging that the move amounted to retaliation for union strikes at its Seattle-area manufacturing hub. Republicans, led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the GOP South Carolina delegation, have decried the legal action as a political move by the Obama administration in favor of union supporters over job-creating private business decisions.
If successful, Soloman’s complaint could force Boeing to pull out of the state of South Carolina or at the very least build an additional assembly line in Washington state as a remedy.
Democrats are incensed that Issa and other Republicans are trying to interfere with an ongoing NLRB case. Issa already forced Soloman to testify before the panel in June under threat of subpoena, and Democrats on the committee at the time accused Issa of trying to intimidate Soloman and pressure him to back down from the Boeing case.
Reacting to Issa’s latest subpoena, Rep. George Miller (CA), the ranking Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee, said it would unfairly force on side — the prosecution — to disclose its internal trial strategy to the other side.
“It uses congressional levers to obtain from the prosecution certain documents to which a judge has already ruled the other party is not entitled,” he said. “Its broad scope, covering documents held by the acting general Counsel or the NLRB itself, risks chilling not only the prosecution’s deliberations but the judge’s deliberations about the ongoing case.”
Issa’s subpoena for documents cover the following:
1) Documents in the custody or control of the Office of the General Counsel or the National Labor Relations Board referring or relating to Boeing.
2) Communications to or from any person in the Office of the General Counsel or the National Labor Relations Board referring or relating to Boeing, including but not limited to all emails and call logs.
3) Documents in the custody or control of the Office of the General Counsel or the National Labor Relations Board referring or relating to the International Association of Machinists.
4) Communications to or from any person in the Office of the General Counsel or the National Labor Relations Board referring or relating to the International Association of Machinists, including but not limited to all emails and call logs.
During the June hearing in which Soloman testified, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) argued that forcing Soloman to testify was an unprecedented act by the committee and would “taint the legal proceeding.”
Issa has maintained his right to scrutinize the NLRB’s activities — even during an active legal proceeding. An administrative law judge has urged the Chicago-based company and the Machinists union to settle their differences in a hearing that began in Seattle June 14.
During the June hearing, Soloman said he regrets the fear the dispute has caused South Carolina workers about the viability of their jobs and several times reminded lawmakers that his calls for a return to Seattle is a standard beginning negotiation stance, implying that the NLRB and Boeing would likely reach a settlement that would avoid displacing South Carolina workers.
“These are difficult economic times, and I truly regret the anxiety this case has caused them and their families,” Soloman said during prepared testimony before the panel. “The issuance of the complaint was not intended to harm the workers of South Carolina but rather to protect the rights of workers.”