The National Labor Relations Board is one of those Depression-era dinosaurs that still roams the Earth, long after it ought to have gone extinct, but which has suddenly burst back into the news, with Jurassic Park-like ferocity, thanks to a union-friendly White House that likes to use surrogates to do its dirty work.
The NLRB's first iteration, hatched in 1933, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court -- a blow against socialism that helped prompt FDR's infamous court-packing scheme. The second iteration, created in 1934, somehow survives to this day, though most Americans don't even know it exists or understand what it does.
That's something current board members obviously intend to change through increasingly-provocative actions like last week's demand that Boeing shelve plans for a new plant in South Carolina, because it will be a less union-friendly workplace than the company's other facilities in Washington State. Reported the New York Times:
"In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina.
In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes. The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said it was illegal for companies to take actions in retaliation against workers for exercising the right to strike...
...Boeing said it would “vigorously contest” the labor board’s complaint. “This claim is legally frivolous and represents a radical departure from both N.L.R.B. and Supreme Court precedent,” said J. Michael Luttig, a Boeing executive vice president and its general counsel. “Boeing has every right under both federal law and its collective bargaining agreement to build additional U.S. production capacity outside of the Puget Sound region.”
It is highly unusual for the federal government to seek to reverse a corporate decision as important as the location of plant. But ever since a Democratic majority took control of the five-member board after Mr. Obama’s election, the board has signaled that it would seek to adopt a more liberal, pro-union tilt after years of pro-employer decisions under President Bush."
An unelected board dictating to a private company where it can or can't locate an assembly line -- that sounds like an edict out of Stalin-era Russia, or Maoist China, not the United States of America in the 21st century. And so it is. But it's not altogether shocking with this union-friendly president in the White House -- a president who enjoys using surrogates to advance agendas he knows Congress won't codify (his use of the EPA to push for carbon controls being another prominent example).
How Congress will respond to this outrageous act of overreach remains to be seen. House Republicans ought to place the defunding and disbanding of this arrogant little anachronism, this embarrassing New Deal relic, high on their list of priorities. The only fitting home left for the NLRB is in a display case at The Smithsonian.