Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest through the trees. Such seems to be the case of the media’s reporting on the matter of the union appointees at President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board and their prosecution of Boeing. This latest example of the media being blinded is the alleged ‘smoking gun‘ that was reported on Friday. However, if the media were to actually look at the timeline in the Boeing drama against the ‘smoking gun,’ it appears they’re being duped by just another well-orchestrated smoke screen to cover the Machinists own potentially unlawful retaliatory actions against the Boeing employees in South Carolina.
On Friday, various media outlets echoed the union story line that there has been a smoking gun somewhere buried deep in the far recesses of some corporate filing cabinet in Boeing headquarters.
According to the union’s story line, the smoking gun is the content of slides on several PowerPoint presentations (view here) given to executives, beginning in April of 2009. The plot, according to the Machinists, are revealed by the ‘Project Gemini’—Boeing’s slides weighing the pros and cons of opening a second assembly line outside of Puget Sound. These slides, according to the union, ‘prove’ Boeing’s intent was to ‘punish’ Machinists union members.
The union even goes so far as to state on its website:
“The Project Gemini documents prove what we’ve suspected all along – that Boeing moved to Charleston to punish our members for exercising their union rights,” said Connie Kelliher, a spokeswoman for District 751.
While ‘Project Gemini’ clearly shows that the company was interested in a second source of production in South Carolina because of “lower labor costs” and its “current hostage situation,” the problem with the union’s (and NLRB’s) entire evil corporate conspiracy theory is in the actual time line of events.
Very simply, the union’s (and NLRB’s) conspiracy theory falls apart when this is taken into account: The company that Boeing bought (Vought Aircraft) for what ultimately was chosen for the second 787 production facility was unionized at the time Boeing bought it—by the very same union, the International Association of Machinists.
In fact, as has been noted on several occasions, were it not for the South Carolina employees decertifying the Machinists’ union after Boeing bought the company, the union would have not likely have ever filed the charges against Boeing.
Thus far, both the media and the politicians who have latched onto the Boeing issue have remained suspiciously ignorant of a simple premise: If the Boeing employees had not decertified the Machinists in 2009, it is unlikely the union would have filed its charges against the company.
You see, if the employees were still represented by the union and the union would have filed charges against Boeing anyway, then it would have been possible for South Carolina employees to claim the union violated its duty of fair representation. [Remember, the problem with the union and NLRB’s case is that the South Carolina work is additional work, not work taken away existing work in Puget Sound.]
On the other hand, since the union filed its charges after the employees decertified, it seems rather apparent that the union’s charges are in retaliation for South Carolina employees exercising their legal rights to become union free through decertification. If that is indeed the case, that is unlawful.
If the media or politicians (or the NLRB, for that matter) were truly interested in getting to the bottom of the Boeing matter, they would ask the following “yes” or “no” questions to the Machinists union:
- Would you have filed the same charges against Boeing if the employees in South Carolina were still members of the Machinists’ union?
- If the answer is “yes,” then you are admitting that your representation of South Carolina workers includes filing a charge that may ultimately cause their jobs to be eliminated?
- If the answer is “no,” then you are admitting that the foundation of the charge filed against Boeing is in retaliation for the workers in South Carolina having voted the union out?
- Are the reports true that union organizers continue to try to convince South Carolina employees to re-unionize by directly stating or inferring that the Machinists will drop its suit against Boeing?
These are simple “yes” or “no” questions that the media should have been asking since the outset of the NLRB’s prosecution of Boeing. Yet, while the Machinists may try to dodge answering the question as they have informally to this point (see here, here, and here), no serious questioner has asked the right questions—not the media, not the politicians, and not the NLRB…so far.
Eventually, the Machinists may be forced to answer the questions to the NLRB, as an unfair labor practice charge was filed with the ‘independent’ agency back in June. However, right now, it appears the NLRB may be stalling its investigation of the charge as it pursues its prosecution of Boeing.
Unfortunately, it appears that the media (and the politicians) are not interested in seeing the forest through trees because the entire premise of the evil corporate conspiracy theory falls apart once you move past the smoke screen the the union and the NLRB have thrown up.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776