Boeing’s secrets at issue in NLRB flap

Which information should be kept confidential in a very public case between the Boeing Co. and the National Labor Relations Board?

That was a question at the heart of arguments made in front of an administrative law judge in Seattle on Thursday.

The labor board has accused Boeing of punishing its Machinists for labor strikes in the Puget Sound region by putting a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina. The board’s general counsel has suggested Boeing set up another 787 line in Washington to make up for their alleged wrongdoing. Boeing says it made a business choice, not one out of spite.

The parties, which include attorneys for the Machinists union, first appeared in front of Judge Clifford Anderson in mid-June. But for the most part, they’ve been working in private on how to deal with various documents and evidence.

However, the sides can’t agree on how to handle sensitive information in the case.

In its filing, Boeing said it seeks to label some information “confidential” and keep that information from the public. Confidential information would include “trade secrets … information pertaining to Boeing’s business strategy or development plans, and non-public information pertaining to Boeing’s taxes and finances.” The parties involved in the case would have access to the information, but it would be kept from the public.

Boeing also seeks to label other material as “highly confidential.” Those documents would be kept not only from the public but also from the Machinists. Attorneys for the labor board would have access to the information. The highly confidential material “is likely to result in harm to Boeing in its dealings with the (Machinists) by providing the (Machinists) with an unfair advantage in collective bargaining,” Boeing argues. Information that Boeing considers highly confidential includes studies and analyses dealing with work placement, aircraft assembly rate information, and asset allocation plans.

Attorneys for the labor board said they don’t “reject out of hand” Boeing’s request, but said in their filing that Boeing failed to show good cause in its request for a protective order. Attorneys for the Machinists and labor board believe Boeing’s “sweeping” request would create too many challenges in the case.

“We suspect the documents Boeing wants to keep secret prove that Boeing executives didn’t make a legitimate business decision to transfer work from Everett to Charleston, but instead broke the law by moving because of union activity here,” Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the local Machinists union, said in a statement.

Boeing has asked for a protective order that would be enforced by a federal district court. The Machinists and labor board do not want to involve the federal court.

The judge did not rule on the requests on Thursday.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.

Tanner Mock begins unwrapping new furniture that has been delivered on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Everett, new look, new name for mainstay Behar’s Furniture

Conlin’s Furniture, based in South Dakota, bought the huge store and celebrates with a grand opening this week.