At the Boeing-Machinist Hearings
Posted by Bruce Ramsey
The Boeing Co. and the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ought to settle the argument about Boeing's opening a 787 assembly line in South Carolina. And they ought to settle among themselves, without having the federal government do it, because the federal government will take "way, way, way too long." So said Clifford Anderson, the Labor Board's administrative law judge at the opening hearing in Seattle on Tuesday morning.
The trial stage of the case will take four to six monts, "perhaps a little more," he said. Whatever Anderson decides, the losing party will probably appeal to the full Labor Board, which is made up of presidential appointees. Getting a ruling out of the Board "can take one, two, three years," Anderson said (at which time we might have a Labor Board of a different political complexion).
The loser at the Board could appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. The whole thing could take 10 years. "I'll be retired, or dead," he said.
Anderson argued that with two parties that are effectively tied to each other, working it out among theselves almost always is the better way. "This is not a one-time auto accident," he said.
It was well-meaning advice, but I have to wonder: What would a compromise be? The company wants the second (and smaller) 787 assembly line in South Carolina and the union wants it in Washington. It's not like a wage increase, when you can split the difference. That doesn't mean there is no possibility of compromise, but it is not an easy one.
Maybe that's why it's in the hands of the government.
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