NORTH CHARLESTON, SC -- Condemned by local officials and called to testify at a congressional field hearing Friday, Lafe Solomon, the acting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, justified his decision to prosecute Boeing, questioning whether the companys expansion in South Carolina was based on legitimate business considerations.
Solomon has charged Boeing (NYSE:BA) built a second 787 Dreamliner production line in South Carolina to retaliate against its union workers in Washington for past strikes and to avoid future labor unrest.
I would not be fulfilling my responsibilities if I turned a blind eye to evidence that an unfair labor practice may have occurred, said Solomon, according to his opening statement. Boeings machinist union has demanded the company move that production from South Carolina to Washington.
Boeing has invested $1 billion upgrading its North Charleston facility to eventually assemble three 787s a month, said a spokesman. The company said it is hiring 1,000 additional workers in North Charleston. Boeing officials also contend the companys supply chain cannot accommodate moving that final production work to Washington.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa convened a hearing in North Charleston to examine if the board is unionizing through regulation." He and congressional Republicans have denounced Solomon. Issa said Solomon has adopted an unacceptable course of action against Boeing, and the American people have a right to know when federal regulatory agencies have exceeded their statutory authority to pursue a politically-driven agenda, according to his written statement.
With 9.8% unemployment in April in their state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina officials have gathered a full assault on Solomon. & the Board appears anxious to challenge any business expansion it deems detrimental to unions as an unfair labor practice, said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. Unless deterred, this bureaucratic agencys actions will further paralyze our nations economy, he said in his opening testimony.
In response to those charges, Solomon has contended he is protecting workers in Washington whose federal labor rights may have been violated, and that he truly regret(s) the anxiety this case has caused the South Carolina employees and their families.
With Solomon as the lead prosecutor against Boeing, a judge last week heard the first round of arguments between the union and the aerospace company.
Congressional Democrats have argued Issas hearing indicate(s) a serious potential for improper interference with a pending case involving private parties and a disturbing disregard for what that interference could mean for the due process rights of those parties, wrote Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in a June 16 letter to Issa obtained by FOX Business. & you have demanded internal deliberative documents from Mr. Solomon that could include, among other things, documents revealing the prosecution's trial strategy."
Miller and Cummings go on to urge Issa to demonstrate some modicum of concern about the constitutional and ethical impact of what you are doing, and to be circumspect about the nature of the questions you and other Members pose to the chief prosecutor."
Solomon attempted to avoid Fridays field hearing appearance by offering testimony of another NLRB official who has no direct involvement in the pending Boeing case, according to congressional Democrats. Issa rejected the offer and insisted Solomon testify, they said.