For those unfamiliar with the gentleman's agreement governing the make-up of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) there are five members who do the voting and the party living in the White House puts three of its supporters in, while the other party gets to name two. They don't have to do it this way, but that has become the tradition. I suppose Obama is a traditional sort of guy so he followed the precedent. With three Obama people and two Republican types on this august body, let's see how they think …..
Electrolux announces that they are closing their Webster City, Iowa plant to consolidate work in Juarez Mexico, dumping some 800+ United Auto Workers members on the streets. The NLRB is silent.
Goodyear announces they are closing their Union City, Tennessee plant leaving close to 1,900 United Steelworkers members high and dry because they cannot compete with the wages Goodyear pays in China. The NLRB is silent.
Hamilton Sundstrand is laying off 200 dues paying members of the International Association of Machinists because machinists work cheaper in Poland and Singapore. The NLRB is silent.
Boeing builds a new plant in South Carolina employing better than 1,000 non-union workers and the NLRB announces that this is "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees", and files a complaint in federal court to put a stop to Boeing's move.
So a manufacturer can lay off union members and move the work to China, Mexico, Poland or Singapore and be right up front about the motivation – to get cheaper labor than the union folks demand – and that is not "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees". On the other hand, building a new plant and hiring Americans based on an assumption that its lower, non-union labor costs might be the motive is "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees".
The philosophical pecking order within the Obama administration is becoming clear. At the top are the globalization wonks who still buy into the absurd theory of the post-industrial-world-is-flat-manufacturing-is-better-done-anywhere-but-here-service-economy. Then come the radical pro-union folks like the Manufacturing Czar and NLRB appointee, both of whom came from their jobs as labor union lawyers into top policy jobs. They are empowered to assault manufacturers to their heart's content so long as they don't upset the globalization apple cart.
In terms of how regular working folks stack up in the Obama administration, factory workers in third world countries get the top spot. Nothing is allowed to get between them and a paycheck. Next come American workers who pay dues to fuel the Obama political juggernaut. At the bottom of the list are the 87% of American manufacturing employees who do not belong to labor unions. They get to keep their jobs only after the low cost foreign workers and then the high cost union workers have skimmed off the ones they want.
Chasing cheap foreign labor is a fine thing in keeping with evolved economic thinking, but chasing cheaper American labor is an evil act to be punished. Sometimes Obama's message can be a bit fuzzy and hard to fully pin down. I'm glad we have been able to finally get that straight.