By Edwin S. Hopson
According to an article in the August 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal, the U.S. House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena on Sunday, August 7, 2011, to the National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel requiring that he turn over by noon on August 12, 2011, certain materials, including its emails, call logs and other communications from the start of 2009 relating to or referring to Boeing or the union that spurred the complaint the NLRB issued on April 20, 2011, against Boeing over it’s decision in 2009 to start a plant in South Carolina to build some of its new Dreamliner 787 planes. The Machinist union had filed charges in 2009 over the decision to build some of the new planes at a new, non-union facility in South Caroline rather than in the State ofWashington where Dreamliners are also being built, claiming that the decision was based on anti-union animus.
The Acting General Counsel of the NLRB,LafeSolomon, in a press release issued today, responded publicly to the subpoena, stating, “[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. I continue to believe that a solution is possible, and will work with the committee in the days and weeks ahead to find a reasonable and responsible balance.”
According toSolomon, the Board has previously turned over more than 1000 pages of documents concerning its legal theories of the Boeing case, the motions made by all parties, court transcripts, and various rulings. The Acting General Counsel also advised that the NLRB had had no communications with the White House regarding the merits of the Boeing case. He also claimed in the NLRB’s press release that many more documents will be made available as the hearing on the NLRB complaint takes place, warning that “premature disclosure could interfered with the fairness of the trial and any possible settlement negotiations. In addition, we believe that the premature disclosure of any documents from the investigative file of an open case would establish precedent that could endanger future cases.”