Boeing on Tuesday asked a Seattle judge to dismiss a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board that accuses the plane maker of breaking the law when it built a non-union production line in South Carolina.
The board accused Chicago-based Boeing Co. of illegally retaliating against union workers for past strikes by adding a non-union assembly line for its new 787 passenger jet in South Carolina. The NLRB said Boeing should also move that assembly work to unionized plants in Washington state, where other 787s are assembled.
At the opening hearing on the case Tuesday, Boeing attorney William Kilberg said the legal dispute has cast a shadow on the company. He said the process has affected Boeing, its employees, its supplies and its investments.
The hearing is just the beginning of what could be years of litigation between Boeing and the government. Arguments before the administrative law judge could last a month or two, NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said, with a decision likely to come later this year. If Boeing loses, it could appeal the case to the five-member NLRB and then to a federal appeals court.
In testimony at a Senate hearing last month, Boeing general counsel Michael Luttig told lawmakers he fully expects to lose the case before the judge and the NLRB because of a perceived pro-union tilt by a majority of the board. He said he is confident an appeals court would ultimately reverse that.