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State Attorneys Object To Labor Complaint Against Boeing

Fri, 04/29/2011 - 9:07am

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Several states have joined South Carolina's attorney general in objecting to a federal labor complaint filed against Boeing Corp. for opening a 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston.

Attorney General Alan Wilson and eight other attorneys general said in a letter Thursday that the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against Boeing hurts the states' ability to create jobs and recruit industry.

"Intrusion by the federal bureaucracy on behalf of unions will not create a single new job or put one unemployed person back to work," reads the letter also signed by the attorneys general in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.

The labor board's complaint filed earlier this month alleges Boeing decided to build a $750 million aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina because it was concerned about strikes by union workers in the state of Washington. South Carolina is a right-to-work state with the third-lowest rate of unionized workers at 5.4 percent. North Carolina has the nation's lowest rate of union workers at 4.4 percent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The NLRB complaint quotes public statements by Boeing executives saying they put the plant in South Carolina in part to avoid future labor disruptions and that, the government says, amounts to discriminating based on union activity.

Most 787s are being assembled in Washington state by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The labor board has requested a court order forcing Boeing to build the Dreamliner in the Pacific Northwest. An administrative judge is scheduled to hear the NLRB's request in June.

Boeing and several state leaders have said the South Carolina plant doesn't replace any operations, but is an expansion that included adding workers in Washington. The company plans to fight the complaint, saying it has a right to build additional production capacity outside the Puget Sound region.

The South Carolina branch of the National Federation of Independent Business supported Wilson's letter.

"This overreaching by the federal government to dictate where Boeing builds its planes is offensive and an attack on South Carolina's status as a right-to-work state," said state federation director J.J. Darby. "People shouldn't have to join a union to get a job and companies should be allowed to make their own decisions about where and how to run their businesses. I think the NLRB's actions are retaliatory and politically motivated, an attempt to appease union voters."

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