05.06.2011 1

Pure Thuggery

National Labor Relations Board

By Howard Rich – For the organized labor movement in America, desperate times apparently call for desperate measures.

With private sector unions continuing to lose favor in the marketplace and public sector unions facing fresh scrutiny from cash-strapped state governments, organized labor finds itself at a crossroads. Even though its coffers have been replenished thanks to a steady infusion of borrowed government money, labor’s future is far from certain — and the fear within the ranks of union leaders is palpable.

In an effort to regain the offensive, union sycophants on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have fired a shot across the bow of the American free market.

Last month, the NLRB alleged that aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s decision to locate a new manufacturing facility in South Carolina (as opposed to Washington State) constituted an illegal retaliation against striking union workers. That claim is laughable — particularly in light of the fact that Boeing has added 2,000 new union jobs in Washington State since announcing its South Carolina decision.

Of course this complaint isn’t about law or logic — it is about repaying a political debt, at least in the short-term.

Unions gave more than $100 million to Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates in 2008 — and that’s just their direct contributions. They also ran an extensive voter registration and mobilization effort, which was staffed by an estimated 450,000 union “volunteers.”

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Obama to begin reciprocating for labor’s benevolence.

To start with, he named longtime union-backer Hilda Solis to run the Department of Labor. Then he picked Teamsters’ attorney Wilma Liebman to head the NLRB. His first White House political director, Patrick Gaspard, was also a former labor operative.

Obama followed up these and other pro-union appointments by rescinding Bush-era disclosure requirements for labor leaders –re-opening the door to all manner of corruption (at the expense of the workers he claimed to be fighting for, ironically).

These moves were just the beginning, though. Obama successfully steered tens of billions of dollars to unions through his socialized medicine law and his so-called “stimulus.” Not only that, he rewrote American bankruptcy law to “reprioritize” Chrysler and GM claims in labor’s favor.

Clearly no one should have been surprised, then, when Obama’s NLRB goons upped the ante by telling a private company where it was going to locate its new facility. After all, if Obama can make private citizens buy health insurance, what’s to stop him from making private companies locate their factories in pro-union states?

Just days after his inauguration, Obama made it clear that his “spread the wealth” mentality applied to unions as well.

“We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement,” he said.

Obviously, Obama knows that this fight is about much more than paying back unions — it’s about doing lasting economic damage to right-to-work states. Obama’s NLRB isn’t just trying to block Boeing from moving to South Carolina — it is putting any company that wishes to move to a more competitive business environment on notice that it must first navigate a hostile federal bureaucracy.

Many companies will likely see that as a sufficient disincentive to relocate domestically — which will naturally result in American jobs going overseas.

Whether the Obama administration wins or loses its Boeing complaint is a short-term issue involving one state — but the “chilling effect” that this complaint could have on jobs and capital investment in right-to-work states is a long-term issue affecting nearly two dozen states. Obama’s administration has made no secret of its contempt for the free market. In fact, the only real positive to come from the Boeing flap is that this contempt has now been laid bare for all to see.

Obama and his union allies have moved beyond political payback and into the realm of pure thuggery. The only question now is whether pro-free market leaders in Congress have the courage to stop them.

The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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