Labor law professor Charles Craver of George Washington University spoke this morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal program concerning the NLRB-Boeing controversy.
Dr. Craver’s talk is highly informative about labor law generally and should be watched by anyone with an interest in the Boeing controversy. It cannot be embedded here, you must go to C-Span to watch it.
Boeing has been planing on expanding its North Charleston plant in order to build the 787 Dreamliner there. IAM brought a complaint against Boeing under the National Labor Relations Act, asserting that the shift in production is an attempt to punish the union for past strikes. There is some evidence that this is correct; Boeing and South Carolina politicians openly stated as much and the NLRB is currently considering the matter. Union rights being what they are in this country, many people don’t know what the NLRB is or what it does.
The interview with Dr. Craver does provide some much needed context. It does not however, provide the kind of information that will educate South Carolinians about their rights as workers. Freedom of assembly is compromised in South Carolina by the state government’s hostility to worker self-organization. Naturally, we haven’t heard anything about repealing the Taft-Hartley Act from the South Carolina Democratic Party. We won’t until there is a national movement among working people to protect the right to organize in every county in the country.
We have heard a lot of grandstanding from right-wing SC politicians. Jim DeMint has called the NLRB “thugs” and “gangsters”, using union-busting language right out of the 1930s. DeMint really hates the idea of collective action, so his opposition is no surprise. Nikki Halley and the entire South Carolina political establishment is completely hostile to working people organizing and standing up for themselves. These politicians have succeeded in framing the issue in such a way that I have heard even progressives in SC agonize over a perceived conflict between respecting worker’s rights and bringing jobs to SC.
Dr. Craver is a professional arbitrator, with a dispassionate view of the law, as should be evident from his digression on the NFL labor dispute. Those of us who support organized labor can learn a lot about what is at stake here and how the law works in practice.
This is just an informed perspective. The International Association of Machinists have released an open letter to the workers of Charleston explaining their position and combating some of the anti-union attacks from DeMint, Lindsey Graham and the rest.
One thing that Dr. Craver does mention – briefly – is that Boeing’s plant in North Charleston was represented by the International Association of Machinists until a decertification election last year. There is evidence that Boeing orchestrated the decertification campaign, in order to create an non-union plant. If this was in discrimination against the union going on strike in the past, then it would be the illegal under labor law.
South Carolina progressives and the SC Carolina Green Party support the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and the right of all workers to organize themselves however they see fit. The State of South Carolina should be encouraging civic and workplace participation, not subjecting workers to the dictates of their employers.South Carolina progressives and the SC Carolina Green Party support the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and the right of all workers to organize themselves however they see fit. The State of South Carolina should be encouraging civic and workplace participation, not subjecting workers to the dictates of their employers.