Still think Big Labor is “pro-worker”? Think again

This is an absolute outrage, and EVERYONE should know about it:

We knew that Big Labor had political pull at the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, but yesterday’s complaint against Boeing is one for the (dark) ages. By challenging Boeing’s right to build aircraft in South Carolina, labor’s bureaucratic allies in Washington are threatening the ability of states to compete for new jobs and investment—and risking the economic recovery to boot.

In 2009 Boeing announced plans to build a new plant to meet demand for its new 787 Dreamliner. Though its union contract didn’t require it, Boeing executives negotiated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to build the plane at its existing plant in Washington state. The talks broke down because the union wanted, among other things, a seat on Boeing’s board and a promise that Boeing would build all future airplanes in Puget Sound.

So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn’t have “strikes happening every three to four years.” The union has shut down Boeing’s commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.

This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing’s plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.

The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing’s South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of “anti-union animus,” says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of “discouraging membership in a labor organization” and thus violates federal law.

Ed Morrissey, in a must-read, rips the NLRB a new one:

Ah, that must be the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Law, or one of the Fairness Laws, or something, right? The WSJ isn’t sure what law the NLRB is talking about, either. Not only do businesses routinely relocate to find the most advantageous environment possible, states and cities compete for that business by calculating their business climate. If this has escaped the notice of the NLRB, perhaps they should get out more.

Workers have the ability to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions in the private sector if they desire. If they make their labor too costly and businesses can conduct their operations elsewhere, then they have the right to do so, too. The government has no legitimate role in forcing business owners to be hostages to their workforce. If the workers price themselves out of their jobs, then they need to deal with the consequences. The ability to collectively bargain does not include a guarantee of a job.

Otherwise, we all pay higher prices for the same product or service — and for Boeing, which competes against the EU’s Airbus, it will mean lost sales and less work altogether in the US. Prices of flying will increase, while the taxes that flow from both employment and sales will decrease. Nor will it end there. Such a decision will lock businesses in their present locations and give local and state governments carte blanche to hike taxes and fees, secure that business owners won’t be able to vote with their feet — and leave taxpayers holding the bag when businesses go under and capital stops flowing to the US for investment.

It’s disturbing. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that unions don’t care. Not as long as they “get theirs” – even if it comes at the expense of someone else’s job, their hard-earned tax money, (or in some instances, at the expense of “the environment“). What’s also worrisome is the political favoritism being shown towards unions by the NLRB. Not exactly surprising, but it’s something that the deserves further sunlight nevertheless, especially in the months leading up to the 2012 election, where Obama and his faithful devotees will try to dupe a majority of the American people (once again) into believing that this administration actually gives a half a rip about the middle class, when the reality is that they most certainly do not.

Do your part by forwarding the WSJ article to as many people you know. The time for action is now, made crystal clear by the last couple of sentences in the WSJ piece:

With a Republican House, Mr. Obama’s union agenda is dead in Congress. But it looks like his appointees are determined to impose it by regulatory fiat—no matter the damage to investment and job creation.

It’s time for a new President. And NOT one with a “D” after their name.

Why California is circling the drain, fitted sheets edition

**Posted by Phineas

So, let’s think about this for a minute. California’s economy is in the dumps — if the nation is in a recession, we’re in a depression. Businesses(1) arefleeing the state because the cost of doing business here (taxes, regulations) is too darned high. We have a $25 billion dollar deficit and we’re facing massive unfunded obligations on public-employee pensions, which are only growing. If we were a separate country, we’d make Greece look like Switzerland.

So, what does our legislature do? Focus all its efforts on our fiscal and economic mess? Bend every effort to bring businesses back to California?

What have you been drinking?

Nope. Our state senate is even now considering a bill to deal with the top problem facing California today: the lack of fitted sheets in hotel rooms:

The bill, SB 432, calls for hotels to use fitted sheets that require less lifting of mattresses weighing up to 100 pounds than traditional flat sheets.

It also calls for hotels to use mops and long-handled tools so that housekeepers would no longer have to stoop or kneel to scrub bathrooms and floors.

The measure was introduced by state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and backed by the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association and the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE.

Naturally, the bill’s proponents brought to the hearing witnesses to testify about how they’ve suffered having to lift mattresses and scrub toilets. And there are studies that purport to show a higher rate of injury for hotel cleaning staff than the national average, though I’d want to check their work before taking their findings as holy writ(2). Nor am I unsympathetic to manual laborers, especially janitorial, work which I used to do. It can be wearing.

But, when the state’s economy is such a wreck, it seems counterproductive at best to impose new costs on businesses, costs that will either be passed on to the consumer(3) or balanced by hiring fewer workers — or both. As a local hotel association has argued:

The California Hotel & Lodging Association has said the fitted-sheet mandate alone will cost the industry across the state at least $15 million.

Hyatt Grand Champions GM Allan Farwell said their property, and many others in the desert, would have to replace flat linens if the measure is approved, as would many other local resorts and hotels.

Julius Kazen, president of the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, said the measure, besides posing an economic burden to properties, also would set dangerous precedent.

“It’s not the government’s place to get involved in the intricacies of our industry,” he said.

And it’s not just the big, evil, corporate hotel chains that would be affected by this (and could more easily absorb the costs), but small businesses, too: Mom-and-Pop motels started by immigrant families, or bed-and-breakfasts run by people seeking a second career — these would face higher costs and would thus be less likely to hire more help.

But Kazen makes a key point at the end of that last quote: it isn’t government’s place to regulate the minutiae of how a business operates. Granted, states have been assumed to have a general police power since the foundation of the Republic, so I have little doubt that Sacramento has the authority to pass this bill.

But it isn’t wise. Not when we have so many more pressing matters to deal with and not when we should be doing everything to make it easier for businesses to operate here, not to drive them away. Nor should we be taking on additional regulatory expenses.

On a more philosophical note, this is also a wrong-headed intrusion of government into places it doesn’t belong, even if it has the authority to go there. If the legislature can mandate the types of sheets and housecleaning tools used in a business, how long will it be before they see a need to save us from ourselves and mandate what kind of sheets and tools we can use in our own homes? This is another case of Nanny State minding our own business.

If there’s a problem with working conditions, then the hotel workers should agitate through their unions with their employers to get better conditions. If there’s an on-the-job injury, California has a strong Worker’s Comp program. But, beyond that, the state should just stay out.

And legislators should worry about the state’s balance sheet, not a hotel’s bedsheets.

via Baseball Crank

LINKS: Here’s the text of the bill. Note that the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association is a grouping of worker’s comp attorneys, and thus hardly disinterested. State Senator de Leon represents the same district that used to elect leftists Jackie Goldberg and Gil Cedillo. He’s also been a member of the California Teachers Association and worked for the NEA. With that, you can imagine his opinion of the proper role of the state.


(1) You know, those evil things that create jobs.

(2) I mean, one originated with a labor institute at Berkeley. Yeah, I’ll trust in their objectivity.

(3) Who may then decide to spend less, or not come at all, reminding us that increasing costs lowers revenues. Something Sacramento should learn.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)