“The law allows companies to shift production for economic reasons, but not to retaliate for past strikes or other worker actions. For us, it’s a motive analysis.”
Lafe Solomon, Acting General Counsel, NLRB
If federal regulators base their actions on “motives,” they have assumed unlimited power. Under this regulatory philosophy, regulatory decisions are based on what is presumed going on inside the heads of businesses as they make their decisions.
It seems that NLRB regulators have determined that Boeing’s “motive” in locating a new plant in South Carolina violated the National Labor Relations Act. In coming to this conclusion, the NLRB had thousands of pages of internal Boeing documents relating to its plant location decisions. In these thousands of pages, a large number of reasons were given for Boeing’s decision. Among them were considerations of supply certainty, labor costs, and tens or hundreds of other factors.
Somehow the NLRB was able to read the minds of Boeing executives and brush aside all other factors as distractions. Boeing’s true “motive” was to retaliate illegally against unions for past strikes. No other motive counted. Boeing had committed a thought crime against its Washington state union.
The Soviet 1936 Constitution also made thought crimes a criminal offense. Any action that “lessened the economic achievements of the Soviet Union” was a potential capital offense. Accordingly, every plane crash, railway accident, or factory breakdown had to be investigated to determine the “motives” of those involved. There was always the fact that something had gone wrong, and to get to the real “truth” investigators had to look into souls of those involved. Perhaps they had the wrong background, had relatives abroad, or circulated among the wrong people. Under Stalin, tens of thousands of innocent managers and engineers were executed for thought crimes. It was safer for prosecutors to conclude that the motives of these managers and engineers were criminal than to miss a few real counter-revolutionaries.
In the NLRB versus Boeing, there is also one fact: Boeing built its new plant in South Carolina. If the NLRB can claim knowledge of Boeing’s “motives,” it is no longer constrained in any way. It can rule that any business decision relating to organized labor was motivated by a thought crime.