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Latest News - June 2011

June 10, 2011
Top NLRB Lawyer to Testify (Reluctantly) at House Hearing on Boeing
Source: The Wall Street Journal
By: Melanie Trottman

The National Labor Relations Board’s acting general counsel will testify under duress at a congressional hearing in South Carolina where he is expected to face a barrage of questions from Republicans on the complaint his agency filed against Boeing Co. alleging labor-law violations.

Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon had declined the invitation to testify June 17th, citing a risk that his appearance could hurt the parties’ rights to a fair trial. The case is scheduled to start next Tuesday in Seattle.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is holding the South Carolina hearing, asked Mr. Solomon to reconsider or face a possible subpoena to appear.

In a letter to Mr. Issa dated today, Mr. Solomon agreed, but not without citing some of his concerns about congressional interference.

“I am not aware of any other time in history of the Office of the General Counsel that a General Counsel has been compelled to testify at a Congressional hearing about the merits of a pending case,” he wrote. “I continue to have serious concerns about a personal appearance at this hearing and the potential impact that certain areas of inquiry may have on the due process rights of litigants and on the interest of protecting the legal integrity of the decision making process.”

“Chairman Issa is looking forward to Mr. Solomon’s testimony,” an Issa spokesman fsaid.

Mr. Solomon filed the complaint against Boeing in April, siding with union members who accused the company of violating federal labor law by building a 787 jet assembly plant in South Carolina rather than Washington state. Boeing, they said, chose the new, nonunion facility to retaliate against union employees in Washington state for  their past strikes. As a remedy, Mr. Solomon has proposed that Boeing be required to move the assembly line to Washington state, where 787 Dreamliners are already made. Boeing has denied the allegations.

Mr. Solomon’s June 17th  appearance will occur the same week that the NLRB judge will formally start reviewing the complaint at a Seattle hearing.  It will occur against a backdrop of increasing political sparring over whether the government can dictate where a company chooses to do business.

Meantime, three Boeing employees who sought to defend the company at an NLRB hearing are out of luck.

The NLRB judge overseeing the hearing Tuesday in Seattle rejected their motion to intervene in the agency’s labor complaint. The South Carolina-based workers “are simply not directly interested parties with a legitimate direct interest in the outcome” of the case, Judge Clifford Anderson said in his decision. There is ”no reasonable basis” to allow the intervention, he wrote.

His denial is the latest development in  what has become a substantial political clash over whether the government can dictate where a company chooses to do business.



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