Hell, my car got smacked in the parking lot of the Charleston County Council building that hosted the event on Friday, but even that wasn’t as bad as the supposed hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that took place.
This “hearing” was nothing more than a cheap circus event for the national Republican Party that somehow found its way not far from my home, and even though its subject is on the opposite side of the country.
What was the event about? A legal case regarding Boeing, the well-known aircraft manufacturer, and its union-represented employees at one facility in Everett, Wash.
What was the subject of testimony? A new Boeing facility in N Charleston – which is of absolutely no relativity to the legal case involving the one in Everett.
Who gave the testimony? Aside from the federal government employee who’s handling the case regarding Boeing in Everett, no one of any relevance.
And what did this hearing actually achieve? Nothing. Not one damn thing.
Okay, let me give you the background on all this –
In late 2008, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were in contract negotiations with Boeing at its Everett facility. And they weren’t easy.
In fact, IAM had been on strike three times in the previous nineteen years to acquire proper respect for their work. Boeing had been steadily increasing its sales of new jets, its profits were increasing greatly, too – but worker pay and benefits weren’t.
While the initial proposals for a new contract did include pay increases, Boeing insisted workers sign agreement to never strike again during the 10-year terms of the new contract.
Not giving in to such plutocratic demands, IAM hit the bricks for the fourth time since 1989, this time for almost two months before Boeing finally agreed to remove such terms.
Not long after in late 2009, Boeing decided to open another manufacturing facility to accommodate the high-order rate of its new 787 Dreamliner planes. And instead of adding to the Everett facility to build those planes, the company decided to take the business elsewhere, settling upon N Charleston.
Now, that’s no big deal, necessarily. But … in its own office communications and even in on-record statements to the press, Boeing executives candidly declared the opening of this new location was in retaliation against IAM in Everett. No other reason. Just revenge.
And that, ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls (…and congressional representatives), is a violation of Rule 8(a)3 of the National Labor Relations Act. “Discriminating against employees to encourage or discourage acts of support for a labor organization” is against the law. Boeing obviously broke it – admittedly, even. And when you violate the National Labor Relations Act, you have to deal with the National Labor Relations Board.
This is a rather minor incident, let’s admit, though. I mean, it wouldn’t be like this right now if those CEOdiots had just kept their mouths shut.
And this action by Boeing doesn’t exactly take away jobs from Everett; any resolve of this matter won’t take any work from Charleston, either. Both sides agree to these facts, too. In fact, the only work the Washington plant would get from this project anyway is just potential overload from the new N Charleston facility, and due to the high rate of orders Boeing has for the new 787 Dreamliners. Shoot, the Everett branch of IAM itself says so.
That doesn’t mean this violation should be overlooked, though. Letting Boeing openly and blatantly break a federal law could set precedent that would eliminate other workers’ rights in the future. That’s why NLRB had to step in, not just to enforce federal law, but to protect federal law, too.
But the company refused to accommodate. In two rounds of negotiation talks that offered slap-on-the-wrist responses to the company’s legal violations, Boeing walked away from the table, leaving NLRB with no other option but an actual hearing. For that reason only, NLRB now has to take this to court in Seattle.
But for some strange reason that makes absolutely no sense at all, the congressional committee had to have its own hearing. And right here in N Charleston, which also makes no sense.
While it was graced by progressive U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bruce Braley and Carolyn Maloney (all members of the Democratic Party), the committee was chaired by anti-labor Rep. Darrell Issa. And Republican Issa was joined by anti-labor Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, along with South Carolina’s own anti-labor Republican Reps. Joe Wilson, Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, the latter of whom chaired this freak-show side-show after Issa left later in the day.
And these anti-labor goons staged a campaign so loony, I could’ve sworn every time any GOP committee member or selected “witness” spoke, I was watching last-minute emergency auditions for a low-budget soap opera.
Clearly establishing the pointless partisan ploy the GOP was trying to pull, their so-called “witnesses” would never be allowed to testify in an actual hearing on this situation, and for two reasons:
1) Their testimonies about the NLRB and Boeing’s N Charleston facility were irrelevant to the case, which is only about Boeing and actions it took in its Washington State plant, and
2) The presumptuous conclusions offered in their testimonies were completely false.
From those facts (and they are factual, dammit), I can only reach one conclusion about the true goal the Republican Party had for this event: to influence public opinion in sympathy for its campaign donor Boeing before the actually relevant hearing, and by spewing out irrelevant issues and false testimonies in this unrelated venue.
For example, the testimony from Cynthia Ramaker, who works at Boeing’s N Charleston plant? IRRELEVANT. The legal issue at hand isn’t Boeing in N Charleston; it’s what Boeing did to employees 3,000 miles away in Everett, Wash.
Her complaint that “thousands of people would be unemployed if the NLRB pursues this”? FALSE. As was repeated over and over and over again, the N Charleston facility, its operation and its employment have no bearing. And they are in no way at risk. Those jobs will still be here, and no matter what happens in the actual case.
The words of Neil Whitman, who owns the Dunhill Staffing employment agency that Boeing uses to find employees here? IRRELEVANT. The work Whitman does right now for Boeing in South Carolina is in no way related to what that company did three years ago in Washington.
And Whitman’s “this is an assault on free enterprise” offering? FALSE. Whitman’s workload with Boeing won’t be affected because – and let me repeat this as many times as it was iterated at Friday’s hearing – employment at the N Charleston plant is in no way at risk.
In an actual, proper hearing, these people would not be allowed to testify. What they have to offer has nothing to do with the case. Even if they were allowed to participate in the actual hearing, their testimonies would be torn to pieces since they’re flat-out wrong in presumptions.
But that’s the testimony we were subject to at this pseudo hearing-before-a-hearing. And which was pointed out multiple times, and not just by the four legitimate representatives on the commission, but also by the only witness who had any relevance to the case.
Practically every other response from Lafe E. Solomon, NLRB general counsel who’s overseeing the case, was “as I’ve said repeatedly…the remedy that is sought will not affect South Carolina jobs.” N Charleston plays no part in this case, and its jobs are not at risk, Solomon confirmed.
That didn’t stop Joe Wilson from continuously making statements in agreement with those other “witnesses.” He kept offering sympathy to the non-existent woes of Ramaker and Whitman, and repeated their claims of job loss.
And Rep. Gowdy seemed to try to back Solomon into a corner, asking him questions that required detailed responses, only to interrupt with “Yes or no! Yes or no! Yes or no!” every time the NLRB rep was offering him a specific answer that Gowdy didn’t want to come out. Gowdy also asked many questions that Solomon explained he couldn’t legally answer at this time, which you’d think any attorney would know prior to asking. It seemed that Gowdy was hoping to spoil the upcoming hearing in Seattle by tricking Solomon into revealing information he actually couldn’t disclose.
After a brief recess, the committee hearing resumed, this time with Gov. Nikki Haley and state Attorney General Alan Wilson. And the complete foolery of this entire case became more and more apparent.
That foolery became most indicative in the testimony from AG Wilson (yeah … son of Joe “you lie” Wilson, who lied in the earlier session). In his initial address, Wilson spewed out “when the labor mob …. oops (chuckle) … I mean ‘labor union’…,” as if it were some accidental error, and which it clearly wasn’t.
And even if it was an accident, the Freudian nature of that error just reveals more and more about the goals of the Republicans who somehow pulled this circus off.
By this time, Issa had left, leaving South Carolina’s own Gowdy in the chair seat of the commission. And when Haley and Wilson got backed into corners, revealing the irrelevancy and utter idiocy of their testimony, Gowdy tried to cut it off.
The lowest point of this sideshow was when Gowdy tried to shut up Congresswoman Norton. In a question she offered to AG Wilson (“Would any remedy to this situation affect South Carolina in any way?”), and which Wilson repeatedly interrupted seemingly in attempt to change the subject, Gowdy told Norton she’d run out of time and suspended her question – he refused to offer her extension, and told Wilson he didn’t have to answer. (“Name the misconduct!” Norton offered in last-stab attempt to bring the case back to actual relevance. “So, is Boeing the new Welfare Queen in South Carolina”? she asked, referring to the $900 million credit the company now has in state taxes.)
A high point of the event was what happened immediately after the very visible argument between Norton and Gowdy. Rep. Braley of Iowa trapped Wilson in the corner Rep. Norton backed him into moments before. Going over practically every statement of Wilson’s original testimony, Braley corrected the AG on many points, even making Wilson admit errors in his statements (although You Lie Junior tried to misdirect his answers to those questions).
The event – which took up about four hours of that Friday afternoon – came to a close following some questions from Tim Scott who, even more so after this event, seems most apt to be a game show host. He asked meaningless, irrelevant questions of no applicability to the case of Boeing or its Everett, Wash. employees, and in a happy, robust, practiced voice that sounded in no way honest or earnest. He tried to misdirect the topic to irrelevant bend. He asked the questions that Boeing probably instructed him to ask, and for which will he expect donations to his next campaign in exchange.
In summary of this very long entry, the whole event was completely irrelevant. Pointless. Of no practicality or fortitude. Its testimony had no bearing on the actual circumstance between Boeing and NLRB. And that actual circumstance will have no effect on Boeing’s operation in N Charleston.
The elected officials affiliated with the Republican Party told falsehoods and untruths, and through this “committee” format that eliminates any legal responsibility they would ordinarily face for misleading and lying.
The N Charleston facility will –unequivocally and without doubt – face no setback no matter what the result is of the NLRB complaint.
And you know what pisses me off most about the whole ordeal? Not only was it meaningless and misleading, pointless and partisan – it was also of meaningless, pointless cost upon us taxpayers.
The cheapest round-trip, same-day airfare from DC to Chucktown on that date comes to $624 (according to travelmeister Expedia.com – and yes, our congress members are supposed to fly in the cheap-seat format). That means the minimum cost to transport the nine panel members of this circus event was $5,616.
That’s not inclusive of any overnight accommodations they may or may not have needed; that doesn’t include any meals. It doesn’t include the costs for security or accommodation upon Charleston County, the host of the event, either. And it doesn’t include the taxpayer-funded costs for NLRB flying Solomon into town.
And what does this minimum cost of $5,616 amount to? One individual American’s total federal income tax paid for one year.
Gee. Thanks, you “low taxes/low government spending”-wailing GOP folks who arranged this meaningless, pointless and useless hearing-of-sorts. At this circus show you pulled off, you proved yourselves to be hypocrites in more ways than one.
Now, stop wasting our time and our money. I’ve got enough expenses to think about as it is, especially since I have to get my car repaired for the damages incurred while sitting through this meaningless, pointless event.