By now, I'm sure most of you have heard about the National Labor Relations Board filing a complaint against Boeing for locating a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina, instead of in Washington state, where it already maintains a production facility for 787s.
For those of you who are not aware, I'll go ahead and sum it up for you: In October 2009, Boeing announced it would build a final assembly plant for its 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, S.C., where it already had existing facilities. About 18 months later, in April 2011, when the building was nearing completion, the NLRB issued a complaint stating that, basically, Boeing can't do that. In short, the complaint states that the company has to locate the second production facility in Washington.
For the purposes of this blog, I'm not going to get into the details of union law. But feel free to click here to read the full complaint.
Folks are upset about this for many reasons, most of them political. But the timing of the complaint-—18 months after the company announced its plans to build-—seems like the most incredible aspect of the NLRB's action. It just sort of makes you want to say, "Dude! Are you serious?!"
The NLRB contends that there is "nothing remarkable or unprecedented" about its complaint against Boeing. Really? The NLRB goes around telling companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building new facilities for a specific purpose that they can't use those new facilities for the purposes they were intended?
(Technically, the NLRB says, "The complaint does not seek closure of the South Carolina facility, not does it prohibit Boeing from assembling planes there." To which Boeing replied--and I'm paraphrasing--"Dude! Are you serious?!")
Of course, this announcement by the NLRB has made some in South Carolina, and likely elsewhere around the region, somewhat anxious about their ability to woo companies like Boeing to locate their industrial facilities in the Southeast. These Southeast officials fear that the complaint will have a chilling effect on firms relocating or building facilities in the right-to-work region.
That's an understandable concern, especially for a state like South Carolina, and especially during economic times such as these. But I wonder if it will have a real effect.
Porsche just announced it was building a $100-million North American headquarters in Atlanta. Michelin announced it was undertaking a $200-million expansion of its existing operations in North Carolina. Caterpillar is building a $426-million plant near Winston-Salem, N.C. Then there's a battery recycling plant in Tampa that's being expanded to the tune of $120 million. And foreign automakers, such as Kia and BMW, have developed major facilities in the Southeast.
Indeed, industrial development has generated some of the higher-profile projects to move forward in the Southeast over the last couple of years. And I don't really see the dynamics changing because of this action by the NLRB. My bet is that industrial development in the region won't be impacted.
What do you think? Do you think the complaint will have a chilling effect for the region? Or is just a blip on the radar screen that will have little to no impact on future industrial development? Let us hear your thoughts!