Thursday’s editorial weighs in on the Boeing/NLRB controversy and increasing volume of the protests against the complaint. It also urges Gov. Haley to turn down any offers to run on a presidential ticket in 2012.
State leaders pulled no punches Tuesday when it came to defending Boeing’s right to open its new 787 plant this summer in North Charleston. The gaggle of GOP of leaders assembled in Washington pulled out words and phrases like “thuggery,” “unprecedented legal action” and “an attack on millions of workers.” Gov. Nikki Haley, Attorney General Alan Wilson, Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson took turns blasting the complaint by the National Labor Relations Board and what they termed either the president’s inaction or complicity in the action.
Some of the emotions ran a little too high for us on Tuesday, but the complaint as filed by the NLRB has little merit that we can see. The core of the complaint is the assertion that Boeing retaliated against the machinists union by “transferring” jobs from its production facility in Everett, Wash., to the new plant it has built here in South Carolina.
There’s some truth to the fact that Boeing was more attracted to South Carolina because it is a “right to work” and anti-union state. Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney discussed some of the reasons for moving to Charleston in a 2009 earnings call, including why it made sense despite the added complication of having production facilities on both coasts:
“Some of the modest inefficiencies, for example, associated with a move to Charleston, are certainly more than overcome by strikes happening every -- every three or four years in Puget Sound and the very negative financial impact of the company; our balance sheet would be a lot stronger today had we not had a strike last year.”
But Boeing’s desire to avoid strikes does not seem to have hurt the prospects of any current workers. In fact, Boeing has added jobs at its facilities in Washington state since announcing the expansion in South Carolina. That fact alone gives the lie to the assertion that Boeing has “transferred” jobs to our state in some sort of retaliatory fashion.
So it’s nice to see our leaders speaking out to protect the new jobs that Boeing will bring our state. At the same time, we can’t help but wonder if the issue has become a bit overblown. The first hearing on the complaint has not yet even been heard (It takes place June 14 in Seattle). It’s not unrealistic to think that appeals and subsequent hearings could drag out the case for years.
South Carolina has long been an anti-union state, there’s little need for our leaders to trumpet our credentials. If this is still about preserving promised jobs for those in our community, we’re all for the effort, but the louder the politicians shout and the more emotional the rhetoric becomes, the more the whole ruckus begins to resemble just another political litmus test, used by those in the GOP to prove their anti-union credentials and used by each party to blame the other for stifling jobs and the economy. Meanwhile, 1,000 people in North Charleston just want to get to work.
Endorse; Don’t Run
Speaking of politicians raising their profiles, Gov. Haley has been gaining more national attention lately, particularly as the 2012 race for president slowly shapes up. The speculation that she has national aspirations began even before she took office, but her name has been coming up more often recently as a possible vice presidential pick on the GOP ticket.
Speaking to online magazine Slate earlier this month, she dodged the question of whether she would run on a ticket, saying “everybody wants to talk about VP with me and what I tell them [is] they need to be focused on the top of the ticket. We don’t have the luxury of talking about VP right now.”
She told the Washington Post the same thing in February. It may be premature, but before the race gets too far down the track we’d just like to remind the governor that we elected her to lead our state, not to use it as a stepladder to a bigger stage. Backing out of a commitment just because something more enticing comes along would send the wrong message about keeping promises. Show us first how fine a job you can do at running the state and then we’ll wholeheartedly support a run for higher office.