House Panel to Study NLRB's Role in Boeing Dispute: Issa
The House Oversight Committee wants to know if the National Labor Relations Board overstepped its authority and is stifling American competitiveness, Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa told CNBC Friday.
"Does NLRB have the right to interfere in expansion?" Issa asked. "We have to find out if an independent agency can define reprisal when, in fact, it’s an expansion."
The issue involves Boeing's decision to expand operations in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. NLRB, an independent government agency, filed a complaint against Boeing , accusing it of retaliating against its unionized mechanics in Washington state by shifting jobs elsewhere.
"We’re here to look and decide if NLRB overstepped its authority and/or whether or not, at a time in which jobs are shifting around the country, we need to reform how we interpret decisions of companies," Issa said from Charleston, where the committee is hearing testimony from Boeing employees and the NLRB, among others, today.
"It’s about being profitable in America," he added. "American jobs are what we’re here to look at and whether or not our very own rules allow us to be competitive against other countries."
Issa acknowledged the NLRB is legally allowed to file its complaints free of pressure from both Congress and the President. But his committee wants to see expansion of American business in America.
"One thing our committee asks every day is, is America going to be competitive or is government in the way in greater and greater amounts of American competitiveness?" he said.
"We understand this recovery is very slow," he added. But unless companies such as Boeing are allowed to expand, including into states where there is no threat of strikes or labor walkouts, "we will lose orders to overseas companies and ultimately that will affect the balance of trade and, in South Carolina, affect thousands of jobs."
He went on to say, "These are not sweatshop jobs, these are jobs that Americans want to see kept in America and Boeing’s in the fight of its life" against European competitor Airbus.
Issa said the issue is different in the case of SIGA Technologies and its contract for smallpox medicine worth up to $2.8 billion. Siga is 30 percent owned by investor and Obama supporter Ron Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings.
Earlier in the week, Issa said he wanted to know if political considerations went into the contract. But on Friday he told CNBC, "We don’t jump to assuming wrongdoing every time a contract happens to go to somebody who gave to the President. We didn’t do it under Bush, we’re not doing it under Obama. But we will be looking into it in the appropriate way."