Labor board drops high-profile Boeing complaint

Sam Hananel
Associated Press
via Google News
12/9/2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Labor Relations Board dropped its high-profile lawsuit against Boeing on Friday, but the political fallout continued as Republicans said the case was a mistake to begin with and a top agency official defended his conduct.

The board moved to end the case after the Machinists union approved a four-year contract extension with Boeing this week. Under the deal, the union agreed to withdraw allegations that the company built a nonunion plant in South Carolina to retaliate against past union strikes in Washington state. In return, Boeing promised to build the new version of its 737 airplane in Washington state.

“We’ve treated this case just like every case that comes to us, and it’s ended the way most of our cases have ended,” Lafe Solomon, the board’s acting general counsel, told reporters in a conference call.

Solomon said he had always preferred a settlement and called the outcome typical at an agency that sees 90 percent of its cases settle.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it was hard for him to celebrate the dismissal of a case “which never should have happened.” He called on Congress to investigate whether the union and the board collaborated against Boeing.

Solomon had come under intense criticism from Republican lawmakers, South Carolina officials and GOP presidential candidates for bringing the case. Republicans and business groups claimed the board was setting a dangerous precedent by interfering with legitimate business decisions about where to locate workers.

Solomon said Friday that he was simply following the law and might do it again if faced with similar facts…

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