House passes bill aimed at Boeing/labor dispute

The House is poised to pass a bill that would undermine the government's labor case against Boeing Co. by curtailing the National Labor Relations Board's enforcement power.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has passed a bill that would undermine the government's case accusing Boeing Co. of retaliating against union workers.

The measure approved on a 238-186 vote would limit the National Labor Relations Board's enforcement power. It would prohibit the agency from ordering any employer to shut down plants or relocate work, even if a company violates labor laws.

House Republicans say the board shouldn't have power to dictate where a private business can locate. The NLRB alleges that Boeing punished union workers in Washington state for past strikes by opening a new plant in right-to-work South Carolina. Boeing denies the allegations.

That a government agency could dictate to a private company where it can work, who it can hire"literally how it chooses to operate"is shocking, and sets a dangerous precedent not just in the Boeing case, but also for every other business seeking to move or expand operations to compete in a global economy," says Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). "The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act, sets clear limitations on the NLRB TMs powers that have been used in ways Congress never intended."

South Carolina Democratic Congressman James Clyburn voted against the bill Thursday, despite disagreeing with the NLRB's complaints.

As the former director of an independent agency -- the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission " I know firsthand that such agencies come under fire when decisions they make are not popular," Clyburn says. "I don TMt agree with the NLRB TMs case against Boeing, but I believe in the purpose of the agency and its independence from political influence. The current House action is an attempt to meddle in work of this independent agency in order to gain political points. I don TMt support the NLRB TMs Boeing complaint, and I don TMt support this political gamesmanship. That is why I voted against the legislation.

Unions say the bill would gut worker protection laws.

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"We applaud the leadership of Congressman Tim Scott and members of the U.S. House for bringing common sense to a rogue agency that has lost its way," Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday. "We ask the U.S. Senate to show the same leadership and realize this is not about Republicans versus Democrats or the next presidential election - but about making sure American companies can keep creating American jobs."

But the bill isn't expected to get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which it must pass to become law.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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