Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, has subpoenaed the National Labor Relations Board as part of his investigation of the regulatory agency's lawsuit against Boeing's new airplane-manufacturing plant in South Carolina, where it has created thousands of jobs.
"It's really important to shed some light on the decision-making process and make it more open and transparent," Mr. Issa's spokesman Jeff Solsby said. "This is a regulatory agency that has been less than transparent about its decisions. It owes Congress and the public a thorough and complete accounting."
The NLRB says it has turned over more than 1,000 pages of documents to the committee — detailing legal theories, motions, court transcripts, and rulings — and it will turn over many of the remaining documents as the trial proceeds and evidence is entered into the court record.
But Lafe Solomon, NLRB acting general counsel, has maintained that giving too much of this private information to the committee could jeopardize the case.
"I am disappointed and surprised by this development," Mr. Solomon said Monday in a statement. "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."
Mr. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been threatening a subpoena for months. He issued it over the weekend, after the NLRB repeatedly failed to deliver documents about the case to his committee for review.
The regulatory agency has until noon Friday to comply.
Mr. Issa is requesting all documents, emails and call logs that refer to Boeing or the International Association of Machinists, which gained NLRB support in its fight against the world's largest aerospace manufacturer, dating back to Jan. 1, 2009.
The committee wants to know the reasons behind the NLRB's complaint against Boeing, Mr. Solsby said. They are trying to figure out how the NLRB went through its decision-making process, and why it ultimately decided to tackle this case against Boeing.
House Republicans have repeatedly stepped in and defended Boeing. In June, they conducted a field hearing in South Carolina — where Mr. Solomon was also forced to testify with the threat of a subpoena — to determine the impact Boeing is having in North Charleston, and the effect that the NLRB is having on the community. Last month, they started pushing a bill that would remove the NLRB's authority to locate private businesses.
Senate Democrats, likewise, have defending the NLRB and warned House Republicans to back off.
The NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing in April, accusing the company of building a plant for building its new 787 jumbo jet away from Puget Sound, Wash., as retaliation for past strikes against the workers at that already existing plant.
But Boeing points out that it is not shutting down the Puget Sound plant, and in fact, has added thousands of jobs in Washington state, even since it announced it was moving the additional 787 work to North Charleston, S.C.
The case is being heard in a Seattle court right now. From there, it could go to the NLRB board, and eventually to the federal court system.
"NLRB's action in the case against Boeing has the potential to create a job-killing precedent just as U.S. manufacturers are working toward economic recovery," Mr. Issa said in a statement. "That a Washington, D.C.-based bureaucracy could dictate the work location and parameters for a world-leading company is unprecedented in a global economy and hobbles a leading American job creator at a time of economic vulnerability," he said.
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