NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After almost four hours of debating, a Congressional hearing on the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against Boeing wrapped up for the day.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government convened in North Charleston to discuss the NLRB's allegations that Boeing built an assembly line for its new 787 aircraft in South Carolina to avoid unionized workers in Washington state.
Republicans on the panel grilled NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon about the lawsuit, citing that no jobs were lost in Washington when Boeing created a second plant in North Charleston
"Boeing did not eliminate union jobs or remove work from Washington State, it merely created new work in Charleston," said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. "Under Board law, it must be shown that existing work was eliminated, subcontracted, or relocated. In fact, even legal experts who support the Board, concede this action is unprecedented."
Democrats on the congressional panel seemed outraged that the hearing was even held, saying that it put the NLRB in a defenseless position, which allowed Republicans to fire off tough questions.
NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon, who filed the labor complaint against Boeing over North Charleston's nonunion plant, was grilled with questions by the panel. Solomon said he regrets the fear that the lawsuit has caused workers in South Carolina.
Solomon said that he attended the hearing reluctantly, but on his own will. He testified that the complaint was not intended to affect the works in South Carolina, but to protect those in Washington. Soloman says he won't turn a blind eye on what looks like unfair labor practices by Boeing.
"These are difficult economic times, and I truly regret the anxiety this case has caused them and their families," Solomon said during his testimony. "The issuance of the complaint was not intended to harm the workers of South Carolina but rather to protect the rights of workers."
During the hearing, Solomon was asked several tough questions by the panel and the following exchange took place.
Panel: "Can you name me a single, solitary worker in Washington state who has lost there job as a result of Boeing's decision to build a separate distinct line in Charleston?"
Solomon: "Not at this time."
Panel: "Can you name me a single solitary employee who has lost benefits as a result of Boeing's decision to build a separate distinct line in Charleston."
Solomon: "Not at this time."
Panel: "Then where's the retaliation?"
Rep. Tim Scott said that the NLRB lawsuit is baseless and is wasting millions of dollars. He said he doesn't understand how creating new jobs in SC has "hurt anyone."
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) disagrees and said that Boeing is not above the law.
Boeing employee Cynthia Ramaker told the panel that moving 787 jobs to Washington would be devastating to SC.
"To me they are violating my right to work, my hands are shaking," said a Boeing employee who wants to stop the NLRB's lawsuit during testimony.
Rep. Joe Wilson says the state has been shunned by unions and Gov. Nikki Haley has been attacked by them. Haley is also expected to testify. A judge in Seattle is hearing the NLRB complaint, but the committee is investigating what was behind it.