This is kind of old news, but I was reminded of something earlier today and I suddenly flashed on how it ties into what I wrote last week about the end of the stealth war, in which I argued that America’s economic elite have been made to feel so secure about their position in this country that they no longer bother to hide the fact they declared war on the rest of us some time ago.
What I was reminded of was Boeing’s decision to move the production of its 787 Dreamliner from Washington state to South Carolina. In explaining Boeing’s decision, its CEO Jim McNerney made an extended statement about moving the 787 Dreamliner work to South Carolina due to “strikes happening every three to four years in Puget Sound.”
Now, here’s the deal: compared to most industrially advanced countries, the United States has very weak labor protection laws. Had Boeing simply announced its intention to relocate its Dreamliner work to South Carolina, without explanation, it probably would have gotten away with doing so.
But one thing that absolutely is illegal for management to do is to make business decisions in retaliation against workers for exercising their rights to organize, strike and collectively bargain. McNerney's statements pretty clearly indicate that this is precisely what Boeing was doing when it decided to move the Dreamliner to South Carolina and that is why the National Labor Relations Board ended up suing Boeing: to enforce the nation's laws and to prohibit blatantly illegal conduct.
What strikes me as significant here is that McNerney must certainly have known that he was admitting to illegal activity when he made the statement that got Boeing sued, but he either didn’t care or he didn’t think anything would come of it. And why would he do either? The United States has spent decades doing everything it can to benefit management at the expense of workers, until we have been brought to the point where CEOs now feel safe boasting about the illegal things they do in order to disenfranchise those workers.
But the truly sad thing is that if the Republicans sweep Congress next year, McNerney’s assessment of his and Boeing's "untouchability" may eventually turn out to be correct. Only a few weeks ago the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill specifically designed to prohibit the NLRB from blocking Boeing’s illegal action.
And this is what the end of the stealth war against working- and middle-class Americans looks like: management unashamedly boasting about engaging in illegal activity, and their lickspittles in Congress amending the laws so that they can get away with it.