May 5, 2011
-- by Dave Johnson
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is engaging in legal action against Boeing and is threatening to sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah for anti-union activities. It has been so long since the NLRB was willing and able to engage on the side of working people and the law that corporate conservatives that we even have laws to protect workers from anti-union activities. In response corporate/conservative heads are exploding in shock.
Boeing opened a 787 assembly line in "right-to-work" South Carolina, after repeatedly having to grant concessions to union workers in Washington State. Opening an assembly line is not illegal, of course, but doing so in retaliation for union activities or for the purpose of threatening a union is. The key to the NLRB action is that Boeing executives said they were opening the South Carolina plant because of union activities.
The International Associaltion of Machinists and Aerospace Workers complaint states that a Boeing executive, on a quarterly earnings call with reporters and analysts stated Boeing was "diversifying Boeing's labor pool" to South Carolina due to "strikes happening every three to four years." The complaint cites several other instances of Boeing officials stating the reason for opening the South Carolina assembly line was because of union activities, as well as threatening the union with losing work in Washington state because of union activities.
The actions by Boeing as stated in the complaint are illegal. You might not even believe they are illegal because it has been so long since these laws were enforced. But American law actually protects workers from coercion by big corporations.
Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah have enacted constitutional amendments prohibiting workers from forming unions using "card check." Card check is when a majority of workers sign a card stating that they want a union. The NLRB is threatening to sue these states because the state amendments are pre-empted by the supremacy clause of the US Constitution, so they can't prohibit workers from forming unions this way.
Corporate conservatives fear that their power is threatened if the country returns to actual enforcement of our laws. So they are coming up with ways to claim this is "big government" conducting a "job-killing" "war on job creators," working with "union bosses" to "dictate" to businesses what they can and cannot do to keep "union thugs" from "intimidating" workers who just want to be left along and don't want to ask for good wages, benefits, vacations, sick pay, safety protections and all the terrible things that union representation brings. In other words, the usual nonsense. Don't fall for it.
The following is from last week's post on the NLRB actions, Does Government Know Who The Boss Is?
Who Is Boss?
Do We, the People have the ability to enforce our laws? Do we have the power to tax corporations and the wealthy?
Do we have the power to protect the protections of democracy?
Democracy provides workers with safety protections and fair wages. We fought so hard to build and maintain this democratic society so that We, the People could share the benefits. We passed laws allowing union organizing, as a balance to the immense power of corporations and wealth. We passed laws prohibiting companies from telling workers, "Work for what we give you or don't eat."
And for a time this built our prosperity. But we let the protections slip, and allowed companies to cross borders to escape the protections democracy offers -- to non-democratic countries like China where workers have few rights, where pay is low, environmental protections practically non-existent. Companies locating manufacturing in places like have huge cost advantages over companies located in democracies that respect and protect the rights of citizens.
The Threat Against Us
Won't companies just move out of the state/country if we try to enforce labor laws or tax them? Won't China just stop selling to us if we apply a tariff to protect democracy, or try to enforce trade laws? Won't the rich just pack up and move or stop working if we don't just give them everything they want? Won't they move even more factories out of the city/state/country if We, the People try to demand our rights?
We Still Have The Power
Here's the thing. We, the People still have some power left in our hands. For one thing we still have a huge market. We still have the power to make demands on those who would like to sell into that market. And we can still choose to enforce tax laws, and wage laws, and tariffs, and labor laws, and trade laws to protect and strengthen what remains of our democracy.
But we can only do this if we decide to stand up for ourselves and do something about what is happening. We have to put our foot down, and demand that our politicians listen to We, the People and do what we say. It is time to get organized, to talk to neighbors and relatives, to show up at town hall meetings and protests. We can demand that news media begin to cover more than just the corporate/conservative viewpoint. We can go out and register others to vote, and get them to the polls, and demand that votes be counted accurately. We can take back our democracy and put We, the People back in charge.
Posted by Dave Johnson at May 5, 2011 5:48 PM
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