Unions are pushing back against South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott’s bill in the House that would limit the power of the National Labor Relations Board.
Scott is bringing the bill up in response to the agency’s legal actions against Boeing in Charleston. The NLRB accuses the company of retaliating against unions by opening a new factory in right-to-work South Carolina instead of its traditional base in unionized Washington after a series of strikes.
The agency’s general counsel is seeking a court order that requires Boeing to move its new work back to Washington state. Scott’s bill would take away the agency’s authority to do that. It has the support of other South Carolina Republicans.
However, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says Scott is overreacting to a routine case by the NLRB. “This is a sweeping legislation that would gut the National Labor Relations Act and result in serious harmful changes to jobs and workers’ rights across the country,” he told reporters in a Monday conference call.
“This really doesn’t have anything to do with South Carolina,” he added, “Corporate interests are trying to take advantage of what they believe is a political opening.”
Republicans have slammed the NLRB as enforcing the law in an unprecedented new way. They say Boeing was making a business decision and did not retaliate against any existing union employees. In fact, the company has hired 2,000 additional employees in Washington since announcing the North Charleston facility.
In an interview with South Carolina Radio Network in July, Scott said there are other steps the NLRB can take besides relocation, “The NLRB has been armed with a number of alternatives for remedies when they are victorious at finding fault with a company. This removes the remedy of job relocation.” Scott also questioned the timing of the suit, coming nearly two years after Boeing announced the facility.
The bill will probably pass the GOP-controlled House, but is unlikely to go forward in the Democratic-led Senate.
Joining Trumka on the conference call was Boeing machinist Pat Bertucci, who said he is afraid that Boeing officials are using the company’s South Carolina plant to intimidate workers at its Washington facility.
“I have first-line managers on the shop floor telling employees, ‘Hurry up! Get it done! If you don’t, we’re moving the work to South Carolina!’ That’s just not right.”