Last month, I went to China as part of a U.S. China Working Group with four other members of Congress. The trip was funded by the National …
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Last month, I went to China as part of a U.S. China Working
Group with four other members of Congress. The trip was funded by
the National Committee on United States-China Relations, a
foundation whose mission is to promote better relations between the
United States and China.
No doubt, it felt strange to travel to a country that is the
largest holder of U.S. debt, continues to expand its industrial
base at the expense of ours, and has enjoyed sustained economic
growth based on the free market principles that we have long
abandoned in favor of the redistributionist policies of a welfare
The ruling elite of China are communists in name only but cling
to power based solely on an ideology of economic growth that most
of the population accepts in exchange for a complete lack of
political freedom. The government knows that if they are unable to
sustain economic growth then the Chinese people will question their
authoritarian rule and unrest will follow. The Chinese are
nationalistic in their pride; in only three decades this economic
experiment has already lifted a third of their nation out of abject
During my visit, I went to Chengdu in central China to visit a
state run Chinese aircraft manufacturing facility where both
military and civilian aircraft were being designed, tested and
built. While they didn’t allow our U.S. congressional delegation
to see the area dedicated to the production of military aircraft,
they did take us over to where they were making aircraft frames for
both Boeing and Airbus, Boeing’s European-based competitor.
Boeing and Airbus, two manufacturing giants in the aviation
industry, dominate the global market when it comes to making
commercial airliners. In order to stay competitive, both were
forced to move some of their more labor intensive manufacturing
processes to China to lower their costs.
Unfortunately, just before I departed for China, the President
Obama appointed National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint
against Boeing to block the location of the company’s additional
production of its 787 Dreamliner to a new assembly plant in the
lower cost state of South Carolina, where there is a right-to-work
law that prohibits compulsory union membership.
Boeing will challenge the actions of the NLRB at a hearing next
month. This will be the first time an agency of the federal
government has moved to block an American company from relocating
part of its operations based solely on protecting the interest of a
labor union. The express purpose of the NLRB is to prevent direct
competition from right-to-work states with union shop states where
workers can be required to either join a union or to pay the
equivalent dues. One of the complaints filed by the NLRB is an
admission by Boeing that the company could not “afford a work
stoppage every three years” as had happened in Washington state
over the past decade with striking workers.
According to the NLRB, Boeing’s move is proof of “retaliation”
against union workers. If the NLRB prevails, Boeing may be forced
to only assemble the Dreamliner in Washington, a union-shop state,
providing more than 1,000 jobs unless, that is, Boeing chooses to
expand their existing contracts with China, a likely scenario given
their cost conscious reasons for wanting to leave the Seattle area
to remain globally competitive.
The tragic thing about the NLRB’s actions is they are saying to
Boeing and other U.S. corporations that if they have to chose
between allowing a manufacturer to move from a higher cost pro
organized labor state with restrictive work rules and compulsory
union membership to a lower cost right-to-work state to stay
globally competitive then the NLRB would rather have the jobs move
overseas, to places like China, than to challenge the
politically-connected power of big labor unions.
The actions of the NLRB are wrong and I will work with the
members of Congress from South Carolina to do my best to reverse
this dangerous course that will cost American jobs and hurt our
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman represents Colorado’s 6th
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