NLRB drops labor case against Boeing

Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

The National Labor Relations Board dropped its case on Friday against the Boeing Co. following a settlement between the company and its Machinists union.

“My office has approved the withdrawl of a charge against the Boeing Co.,” said Lafe Solomon, general counsel for the labor board, in a call with journalists Friday.

The labor board had filed a federal lawsuit against Boeing in April on behalf of the Machinists. The NLRB accused Boeing of illegally retaliating against its Puget Sound area Machinists for labor strikes when it located a 787 assembly line in South Carolina. Boeing denied the charge. The case was being heard by an administrative law judge in Seattle.

Last week, Boeing and its Machinists union announced a tentative agreement that would end the labor dispute, secure 737 MAX work in Renton and extend the union’s labor contract. On Wednesday, Machinists overwhelmingly approved the new contract.

At the Machinists’ request, the labor board quickly sought to withdraw the complaint against Boeing, Solomon said. The case was closed Friday morning.

The NLRB and Solomon have faced political scrutiny over the case, with Republicans claiming the labor board was trying to dictate where a major company could do its business. The NLRB had suggested Boeing should establish a second 787 line in Everett to make up for taking work away from the Puget Sound region. In that scenario, Boeing had said it would have to close the South Carolina facility.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley repeatedly has called the labor board a “rogue agency.” And members of Congress have inundated the labor board with requests for documents in the Boeing case.

On Friday, Solomon said that the agreement between Boeing and the union was the best resolution for everyone. Solomon and the administrative law judge had both urged the parties to settle their differences out of court.

“There is job security in the Puget Sound region and there is job security in South Carolina,” Solomon said.