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Aug
2011
15

ISSA-LATIONIST: House Committee Head Tries to Bring Down the NLRB In Advance of 2012 Election



If Democrats have been waiting for the battle that they must fight to the death…this is it.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has put in motion an all-out war on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that desires no other endgame than for it to be destroyed. According to Dahlia Lithwick in a Slate article called “Dues Process”, Issa has crossed a line:

“His crusade against the National Labor Relations Board—a crusade that puts basic tenets of due process, judicial independence, and workers’ rights at risk—makes sense only if you are a subscriber to the nihilist worldview that virtually all government agencies are corrupt, socialist minions of Obama.”

The latest attacks on the NLRB are further proof that Republicans are ideologically anti-union in order to attempt to weaken the largest base of minority voters and working class whites who routinely vote for progressive causes due to their allegiances to the Democratic party. Liberals have yet to put their all into fighting this situation. To many, including Lithwick, it reminds them of the 2006 U.S. Attorneys scandal:

“The Republican war on the NLRB is really no different. Whether you like the agency or hate it, swoon for organized labor or dream only of crushing it, is immaterial. We don’t close down entire government agencies by congressional subpoena, and we don’t block administrative judges from doing their jobs because we don’t feel like waiting around for the legal process to be completed.”

The entire situation stems from the Boeing Corporation’s decision to move its facilities from pro-union Washington state to Right-to-Work South Carolina. This comes after a series of strikes by its workers. The complaint filed by the NLRB contends that the move from Washington to South Carolina was based in punishing the current workers for striking

“It’s a tough claim to prove, but it’s not an outlandish one by any means. As the NLRB points out here, there is ample precedent for the argument that threatening to move facilities because of strikes is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. And certainly the NLRB might reasonably have taken a Boeing executive at his word when he told the Seattle Times (on video!) that this was precisely what motivated the relocation.”

The meddling in Boeing’s judicial proceeding shows that there are no bounds to how far congressional Republicans will go to take out unions. They will start a war with the due process of law just to take out a Democratic organizing stronghold before the 2012 presidential election. What is surprising to many, including the writer Ludwick, is the lack of outrage.

“But there seems to be little outrage forthcoming from those who have either written off the reasoned adversarial process altogether or who see the demise of the NLRB as a useful move in the larger attempt to torch the entire federal government. Issa has made no secret of the fact that he would merrily close down the NLRB if it doesn’t run its independent agency his way. He’s hardly alone. In February, congressional Republicans tried to pass an amendment to defund the NLRB. (They ended up merely slashing the budget.) Then in May, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., put forward legislation to defund the Boeing complaint. That makes about as much sense as putting forward a bill to defund Citizens United.”

Last week Rep. Issa issued a subpoena for all NLRB documents pertaining to the Boeing case while it is still pending in Seattle. This is after the Judge denied Boeing the right to the same material.

“The NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon noted how completely unheard of it is for congressional oversight to scuttle an ongoing judicial process, indicating in a statement that “[t]o the best of my knowledge, this is the first time since 1940 that the National Labor Relations Board has been the subject of a Congressional subpoena. I am disappointed and surprised by this development. For months, my staff and I have diligently tried to satisfy the Committee’s desire for information while also preserving the integrity of our process and the rights of the parties in a case being actively litigated.” The subpoena requires that Solomon turn over all requested materials by noon this Friday. He cannot comply without violating all sorts of work-product and attorney-client privilege rules. When he fails to do what he cannot by law do, he will presumably be in contempt of Congress. So it’s not just the rule of law and law enforcement that are imperiled by Issa’s subpoena-happy meddling. It’s legal ethics as well.”

Democrats have been looking for something to rally around and this may, or more specifically may have to be, the issue they gravitate to. As the 2012 election approaches, this has a chance to become another issue that paints Republican incumbents as radicals out to destroy the government.

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