Boeing complaint: The Republican base's new favorite semi-obscure issue.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
May 17 2011 7:47 PM

Air Rage

A spat between Boeing and labor turns into the next unions-versus-Republicans Armageddon.

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The anti-labor side turned on a dime from opposing the now-hopeless Employee Free Choice Act to opposing the Boeing complaint. This side includes groups like the Workforce Fairness Institute, which according to its last available tax forms has four directors, no full-time employees, and a $10 million budget. It includes basically every Republican politician in South Carolina, who all have full confidence that the state is on their side. In 2010, the state voted on a constitutional amendment to ban something like EFCA—which would have let workers organize without secret ballots—from ever going into effect. The NLRB called it unconstitutional. It passed with 86.2 percent of the vote.

"I'd be surprised if this complaint was politically motivated," says Andy Arnold, a lawyer and Democratic activist in Greenville, S.C., who works on labor issues in the state. "Most people do politically motivated things when they stand to benefit from them. I mean, does Barack Obama benefit from it? He wouldn't win South Carolina in a million years."

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Correction, May 18, 2011: The aricle originally identified the NLRB as the NRLB throughout. (Return to the corrected sentence.)