Senator Blumenthal’s floor statement on the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing

Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Thank you, Mr. President.

I rise today to voice my concerns about a great deal of controversy surrounding a complaint issued under the National Labor Relations Act against the Boeing Company. Boeing recently decided to open a new plant in South Carolina. The National Labor Relations Board’s acting general counsel issued a complaint because of evidence that this decision was made in retaliation for recent strikes at the Boeing plant in the Puget Sound area.

I hope there is no dispute about a couple of points. First, Boeing is a highly reputable company that produces great products valued around the world, and great jobs. Not just jobs but good jobs. There should be no doubt also about the importance of public debate, robust criticism of government agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, when it makes decisions that spark disagreement. I have the greatest of respect for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who may have been critical of NLRB decisions in the past and of this action in the present. There should be no doubt also about the importance of the integrity of the NLRB process which begins with a complaint, which is all we have here against Boeing, and then has a procedure for consideration by an administrative law judge of the facts and the law, then to the full board of the NLRB, and a right of appeal to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.

Here, in this instance, there has been a series of attacks on the complaint and the acting general counsel that involve apparent efforts to impede or derail that process and to prejudge and even preempt that process. The effect

is to politicize and potentially stop what should be a legal proceeding handled under the appropriate rules and laws and statutes by an independent government agency. This issue is about the integrity of the process.

At this point there is only a complaint against Boeing. This complaint was issued on the basis of statements and documents and actions by the company itself. There is certainly evidence, including at least one Boeing executive’s statements, that the company may have retaliated against workers. The NLRB and Lafe Solomon, the acting general counsel, have not only the right but the responsibility to investigate and act where the facts and the law establish a right and obligation to do so. So no one should be trying to prejudge this case before it goes before the administrative judge, and no one should be seeking a pass from the appropriate process, and no one should be seeking to intimidate or to interfere with this lawful proceeding. I come to the floor today because of the prospect of exactly that danger occurring.

On May 12, Chairman Darrell Issa, representing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to the acting general counsel of the NLRB requesting that it produce virtually all internal documents relating to this case. Indeed, the letter has a number of specific paragraphs that are sweeping in their scope, requesting, for example–demanding–that all documents and communications referring or relating to the Office of General Counsel’s investigation of Boeing, including but not limited to all communications between the Office of General Counsel and the National Labor Relations Board. The House committee, with all due respect, is not a court. It is not the administrative judge. It is not a proper party to be demanding these documents in the course of a lawful judicial proceeding. The chairman’s attempt to insert the committee into this case by conducting its own round of discovery at this point would interfere with the NLRB’s ability to prepare and present its case before a real judicial officer.

These actions and some others are an attack on the integrity of the NLRB, an attack on its ability to make decisions and enforce the law as the Congress has instructed it and required it to do based on decisions involving the facts and the law alone. The NLRB is part of our justice system, and it should be given the opportunity to do justice in this instance. It should be given the opportunity to protect fairness and peace at the workplace, which is ultimately its mandate and its very solemn responsibility, and its tradition. Its mandate from the Congress is to protect jobs and foster economic growth by maintaining peace and fairness at the workplace. These priorities should be shared by all of the country. I certainly believe and hope that the people of Connecticut want fairness and peace in the workplace, as we do in our workplaces.

The NLRB, very simply, should be given that opportunity to do justice without improper or inappropriate interference by Members of the Congress or anyone else. My hope is that it will be vindicated and the attacks will cease, and that it will be given the opportunity to go forward lawfully and appropriately and properly.

Thank you, Mr. President. I suggest the absence of a quorum.