Congressman subpoenas NLRB documents in Boeing case

CHICAGO Mon Aug 8, 2011 12:05pm EDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Monday issued a subpoena to the National Labor Relations Board for documents pertaining to the board's complaint that Boeing Co put a non-union factory in South Carolina to punish unionized workers in Washington.

Issa's subpoena follows his earlier request for documents that the NLRB and its acting general counsel Lafe Solomon declined to provide.

The request covers any documents, e-mails or phone logs related to the NLRB's case that is being heard by an administrative law judge in Seattle.

The case has become a proxy for a larger debate between supporters of union rights and those who believe U.S. companies should be free to build factories where they want.

"NLRB's action in the case against Boeing has the potential to create a job-killing precedent just as U.S. manufacturers are working toward economic recovery," Issa said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the NLRB was not immediately available to comment on the subpoena. But in a July 26 letter to Issa, Solomon said "premature disclosure" of the NLRB's Boeing case file would hobble the legal process.

Issa gave the NLRB until Aug 12 to produce the materials he requested.

Boeing disputes the NLRB claim that it put an assembly plant for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina as retaliation against the International Association of Machinists for past strikes, a protected activity.

Boeing says the new plant represents the addition of jobs to the company, not the relocation of work.

Meanwhile, the NLRB is wrangling with Boeing in court over the plane-maker's reluctance to disclose information, including labor costs, that could compromise the plane-maker's competitive position.

The Dreamliner, a lightweight carbon-composite airplane, is three years behind schedule because of snags in its complex global supply chain. But the company also blames a 58-day IAM strike in 2008 for part of that delay.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; editing by Gunna Dickson)