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Sen. DeMint sees labor’s influence over NLRB, issues FOIA request to Board over Boeing complaint

June 10th, 2011  |  David Stephanides

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has issued a FOIA request to NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon seeking expedited production of documents related to the Board’s decision to issue a complaint against Boeing after the company announced its expansion to South Carolina, a right-to-work state — the latest development in the growing Republican backlash against the Board’s action. DeMint’s FOIA request asks the agency to produce communications between the NLRB and senior officials of the Machinists union (IAM) as well as communications with officials within Congress and the Obama Administration. He also requested any documents related to communications between the Board and government officials in Washington and Oregon. The request also seeks any documents generated by Board members, staff, or outside consultants analyzing the NLRB’s legal authority to issue the complaint in this case or supporting the complaint filing.

As noted in a blog post, DeMint thinks he has found evidence of labor influence into the decision: In an April newsletter to its members, the IAM “bragged that… political contributions made by the union’s political action committee (PAC)… gains your Union access to officials, which is critical to get our issues addressed and ensure our input is heard.” The IAM comment was issued in the same month that the NLRB decision on the Boeing case was made public, DeMint pointed out.

In a June 6 letter to Solomon and FOIA officer Jacqueline Young, DeMint writes that “the public facts surrounding the [Boeing] complaint raise serious questions about the interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act upon which it is based, to say nothing of the troubling appearance of partisan, special interest politics at its heart.” The Board overstepped its statutory authority when it targeted Boeing, DeMint argues, nothing that the agency “has no authority to dictate private business decisions about the location of production facilities, let alone target the citizens of America’s 22 right-to-work states with economic retribution for what the Board deems political incorrectness.”

“I write, therefore, to seek greater clarity about the decision, how it was reached, and the possible input of politically connected special interests in that process. The only way to assure the public of the purity of the NLRB’s intentions and the propriety of its actions is to publicly disclose the full record of the Board’s decision-making process leading up to last month’s complaint.”