A subpoena for the NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is slowly but surely becoming an albatross around the neck of this administration and there doesn’t seem to be any quick fix to the problem. Ever since they opened up their assault on Boeing back in April the board has been drawing fire from all sides. And now, apparently tired of the foot dragging and obstructionist tactics being employed, Darrel Issa has let the NLRB know that it’s time to put up or shut up.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has subpoenaed the National Labor Relations Board for documents related to the agency’s case against Boeing, a move that further intensifies an already heated battle over whether the aerospace giant unlawfully retaliated against union members for past strikes by transferring a production facility from Washington to the right-to-work state of South Carolina.

The move comes more than two months after Issa sent a letter to the NLRB’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, requesting documents related to the agency’s lawsuit against Boeing. Congressional Republicans have rallied against the NLRB since the agency issued its complaint against Boeing in April, arguing that the lawsuit represents an overreach of the NLRB’s authority. Democrats and labor groups contend that the suit is warranted.

What Issa correctly describes as a “a job-killing precedent” is only attracting this much attention because of the breathtaking power grab being attempted here. And if this shakes out as a legitimate exercise of the board’s power, the entire concept of Right to Work states will be on the decline.

For their part, the NLRB is maintaining their, “who, us?” defense.

The NLRB responded Monday by noting that it has already turned over more than 1,000 pages of documents and arguing that many of the documents Issa has requested will be turned over during the course of the trial.

“To 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,” [acting general counsel, Lafe] Solomon said in a statement. “I am disappointed and surprised by this development.

Perhaps the board has never been the subject of a subpoena because they’ve never done anything so outrageous as to require one? (Just a thought, Lafe.) And not for nothing, but the whole idea of requesting documents in advance is to prepare your case and be ready to present all of the applicable evidence at the appropriate time. When Congress asks for documents and records now, it’s a rather thin answer to essentially say, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll turn up at some point during the proceedings.”

Issa has a history of being something of a bulldog when he gets his teeth into a problem. But he’s going to need all the tenacity he can muster to take on this one. It looks like the NLRB is planning on standing pat.