Unofficial Remarks by Senator Reid Regarding NLRB Complaint against Boeing

MAY 11, 2011 – UNITED STATES SENATE

MR. REID: MADAM PRESIDENT, I RECOGNIZE THAT WE’RE IN A PARTISAN ENVIRONMENT. AND IN A PARTISAN THERE IS TEMPTATION TO TURN EVERY ISSUE INTO A POLITICAL ISSUE. WE CERTAINLY LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE ENVIRONMENTS TODAY, AND THAT’S REGRETTABLE, BUT FAR FROM UNFAMILIAR. POLITICS PLAY A ROLE IN OUR REPRESENTATIVEGOVERNMENT AND OF COURSE THEY AS YOU HAVE. FOUNDERS CREATED A SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES, THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, FOR EXAMPLE, AND TWO CHAMBERS OF THE CONGRESS BECAUSE THEY ANTICIPATED THIS.

THEY WANTED TO KEEP US FROM LOSING OUR WAY.LONG AFTER THAT SYSTEM WAS CREATED NEW INDEPENDENT FEDERAL AGENCY WAS CREATED IN THE SAME SPIRIT OF CHECKS AN BALANCES. THAT AGENCY IS THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD. IT ACTS AS A CHECK ON EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES ALIKE. IT SAFEGUARDS EMPLOYEES’ RIGHTS TO UNIONIZE OR NOT UNIONIZE. IT MEDIATES ALLEGATIONS OF UNFAIR LABOR AND IT DOES IT OUTSIDE ANY INDEPENDENT, THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL IS A MAN WHO IS AS NONPARTISAN AND INDEPENDENT AS THE AGENCY HE WORKS FOR.

LAST WEEK THEY ISSUED A COMPLAINT AGAINST BOEING. THE COMPLAINT ALLEGES AFTER BOEING WORKERS IN SOME STATES WENT ON STRIKE; THE COMPANY RETALIATED WHILE OPENING A NEW PRODUCTION LINE IN A NONUNION FACILITY. THAT KIND OF RETALIATION IS ILLEGAL. THAT’S JUST THE BACKGROUND. I’M NOT HERE TO JUDGE THE MERITS OF THE CASE. IN FACT, I’M HERE TO DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE. TO REMIND THE SENATE THAT PREJUDGING THE CASE IS NOT OUR JOB. THAT WOULD OVERSTEP LONG ESTABLISHED
VALUES AND WEAKEN THE SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES. LATELY THOUGH. SO OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES HAVE ATTACKED THE NLRB AND TRIED TO POISON THE DECISION PROCESS.

FOR EXAMPLE, EVERY REPUBLICAN SENATOR ON THE “HELP” COMMITTEE, AND, MADAM PRESIDENT, LET’S REMIND EVERYONE THE L IN HELP STANDS FOR LABOR, THEY SENT A LETTER TO THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL DEFENDING BOEING. THE LETTER ITSELF WAS SENT SIX WEEKS BEFORE A HEARING TAKES PLACE SEEMS QUESTIONABLE AT THE VERY BEST. BUT
THESE 10 REPUBLICANS WENT FURTHER. THEY WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO LINK THEIR REQUEST TO THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL’S PENDING NOMINATION. IF THERE WERE EVER A CASE OF INTIMIDATION, THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT TO ME.

THAT’S NOT ALL. EIGHT STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ALL REPUBLICANS ALL SIGNED A LETTER TO THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL CALLING ON HIM TO WITHDRAW THE COMPLAINT ON BOEING. AGAIN, LONG BEFORE AN ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE HAS HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THE CASE. I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL OF THEM TO TAKE A STEP BACK, MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES ON THE “HELP” COMMITTEE AND THESE ATTORNEYS GENERAL.

WE ALL KNOW THAT REPUBLICANS DISLIKE ORGANIZED LABOR. WE KNOW THEY DISDAIN UNIONS BECAUSE UNIONS DEMAND FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY FROM BIG BUSINESSES. SO LET’S BE HONEST, REPUBLICANS ARE THREATENED BY UNIONS. THEY’RE THREATENED BECAUSE WHEN A LARGE ORGANIZED GROUP IS SO CONCERNED WITH WORKERS’ RIGHTS, THE MEMBERS OF THAT GROUP VOTE IN LARGE NUMBERS AND BECAUSE REPUBLICANS AND BIG BUSINESSES THEY DEFEND TAKING AWAY WORKERS RIGHTS. THIS KIND OF INTERFERENCE IS INAPPROPRIATE, IT’S DISGRACEFUL AND DANGEROUS.

WE WOULDN’T ALLOW THREATS TO PROSECUTORS OR U.S. ATTORNEYS TRYING TO STOP THEM FROM MOVING FORWARD WITH CHARGES THEY SEE FIT TO BRING TO THE COURTS AND WE SHOULDN’T STAND FOR THIS. IT MAY NOT BE ILLEGAL, BUT IT’S NO BETTER THAN THE RETALIATION AND INTIMIDATION AND IT’S THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION IN THIS CASE AND SHOULD STOP.

WE NEED AGENCIES LIKE THE NLRB TO BE ABLE TO OPERATE FREELY AND WITHOUT POLITICAL PRESSURES. WE NEED TO KEEP OUR INDEPENDENT AGENCIES INDEPENDENT. IN THIS CASE, IT’S FOR THEM TO DECIDE NOT FOR US TO DECIDE.