Tag: Dave Reichert

WA-GOV | Dave Reichert stays put, Bill Bryant sole Republican running to unseat Jay Inslee

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn)

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn)

After months of speculation culminating in several weeks of deliberate rumor-stoking, the wait is over. Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) will not run for Washington state governor… again.

In a statement released Friday, Reichert expressed concern for the state under current Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s leadership, but said he believes he can best serve the people by seeking re-election to represent Washington’s 8th Congressional District. Reichert wrote:

Like so many of you, I have been extremely disappointed in the decisions coming out of the Governor’s Office — regarding our schools, the health of our children, and most recently a decision to give the Green River serial killer a chance to enjoy life in a nicer prison. We deserve better.

Yet, I believe I can better serve you now, today, in another Washington where politicians are more interested in fighting each other than fighting for America; where leadership has been in retreat, and courage has been on recess.

The fifth-term congressman and former King County Sheriff’s displeasure with Inslee’s performance seems to be shared by voters. The governor’s job approval rating in some non-published polls is soft — hovering in the mid-40s — and the most recent Elway Poll finding that only 30 percent of voters would definitely vote to give the governor a second term each indicate weakness.

Reichert’s decision to remove his name from consideration leaves Republican candidate for governor and Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant with an open field to run in toward the primary, at least for now.

(The absence of any mention of Bryant in Reichert’s statement was noticed by some Republican insiders.)

Seattle Port Commissioner and candidate for governor Bill Bryant

Seattle Port Commissioner and candidate for governor Bill Bryant

Bryant knew his cue and quickly blasted an email to supporters complimenting Reichert for his public service and sending the signal that his campaign was shifting into a higher gear. Bryant wrote:

My campaign for governor of Washington State now moves into a new phase; a phase focused on the challenges confronting our kids, teachers & classrooms, on the challenges confronting communities across Washington that need family wage jobs, and on the challenges facing the Puget Sound and the salmon runs that are part of our history, culture and economy.

Our campaign needs to make some noise, offer the people an alternative leadership style, one that not only articulates a vision, but that is capable of building coalitions that gets stuff done.

State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison issued her own statement giving praise to both Reicher and Bryant. Hutchison wrote:

Congressman Reichert has an exemplary record of public service, and the people of his district, Washington State, and the country will be well served by him focusing on his current role.

Republican Bill Bryant is running a strong campaign for Governor, meeting voters across the state and building support to replace the Governor who can’t govern, Jay Inslee.

The relatively minimal statements of Hutchison, Reichert and Bryant marked an important plot point in a story stretching back nearly three years.

Chatter among Republicans as to who could beat Inslee in 2016 began not long after Election Night 2012. Conversations took place at conferences, in coffee shops and among groups gathering through social media, but along the GOP grapevine Bryant’s name wasn’t registering in those early discussions as the top-tier choice of Republicans. Reichert, however, was mentioned often as an A-list option, a candidate with considerable name identification and a persona that matched up against Inslee’s protector archetype. In certain circles, prospects for a run by state Senator Andy Hill (R-Redmond) generated proportional excitement, originating largely from his calm leadership under fire during budget battles in Olympia and his record of winning in part of King County.

Meanwhile, Bryant went to work to build and strengthen his reach across Washington, crisscrossing the state and subjecting himself to the rigors of rubber chicken dinners at Lincoln Day events in nearly every county. He recruited grassroots activists into his campaign and racked up a significant list of endorsements including leading state legislators from both sides of the Cascades, port commissioners, as well former Gov. Dan Evans and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.

Since launching his official campaign this May, Bryant has also drawn financial support, raising more than $575,000 in the doldrums of the 2nd and 3rd quarters of this year.

[Bryant’s accumulated campaign finances may have been one factor in Reichert’s decision. Reichert’s federal campaign coffers hold just over $607,000 as of Sept. 30, which would put him slightly ahead of Bryant in the fundraising contest, but the procedure for sweeping those monies over for use in a state race is tedious and could reduce the total available. (See “Inslee Discloses Details of Disputed $200K Transfer from Fed Account, Several Donors Over the Max,” Northwest Daily Marker, 9/3/11.)]

Bryant still has a lot of work to do to catch up to Inslee in fundraising. Even contending with several financing blackouts during regular legislative sessions, overtimes and triple overtimes, Inslee has amassed almost $2.4 million, though it’s worth noting that $320,000 of Inslee’s contributions in 2015 came as transfers from the state Democratic machine. Without those as early and necessary cash transfusions, Inslee’s fundraising edge in 2015 narrows to less than $280,000. Not a photo finish, for sure, but neither is it a runaway for the incumbent.

Nevertheless, Team Bryant’s early totals are a respectable ante to play in the contest ahead. As an incumbent holding statewide office, Inslee’s name identification is high and Bryant’s is relatively low; closing the gap will require more than just the candidate’s shoe leather and an army of enthusiastic volunteers.

The question of exactly how much money Bryant will need to raise depends largely on whether he remains the only candidate drawing on Republican and conservative votes in the primary. On the conservative right, there has been very little buzz about potential entrants into the primary who might appeal to voters whose tastes tend more toward Clint Didier, leaving some wondering if a challenge to Bryant from the right could still emerge late in the race.

Reichert Comments on Decision to Seek Re-Elect to House and Pass on Senate Race

As sources in the State Republican Party were reporting yesterday, Congressman Dave Reichert’s (R, WA-8) congressional office confirmed today that the former King County sheriff and four-term member of the U.S. House has decided not make a bid for the U.S. Senate.

The official verification of Reichert’s choice came from communications director Natasha Mayer who gave NW Daily Marker the following statement by email:

“Congressman Dave Reichert, after careful consideration, has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate. He is deeply committed to his constituents in Washington’s Eighth District and looks forward to continuing his service to them from the U.S. House of Representatives and his position on the Ways and Means committee. Looking ahead to the newly formed Eighth District, he plans on representing everyone equally and believes that, overall, there are more commonalities than differences and the priorities of all Washington citizens are the same: jobs and the economy.”

Reichert’s choice means that incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) still faces only two declared Republican challengers, Art Coday and State Sen. Michael Baumgartner.

Before this year’s race, Coday – a medical doctor – ran early in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary before withdrawing to mount an unsuccessful challenge against State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D) in the 32nd Legislative District (Edmonds). Baumgartner is a first-term state legislator, with a background in economic development and foreign service.

Both challenger’s campaigns face a well-funded Democratic second-term incumbent. According to reports to the Federal Election Commission, Cantwell boasts $3.1 million cash on hand. Coday’s war chest? $14,000. Baumgartner has yet to file reports that were due Jan. 31 for funds raised in 2011.

Inside chatter still buzzes about the possibility that Port of Seattle President Bill Bryant may enter the race, though it is uncertain if an entry this late would put Bryant far behind in terms of galvanizing statewide support for his campaign.

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[photo credit: republicanconference]

WA-08: Sources Confirming Reichert Will Run for Fifth Term in Congress

Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08) will run for re-election to the U.S. House and forgo a bid for the U.S. Senate, sources inside the State Republican Party confirmed Thursday after hearing from Reichert.

Reichert’s decision to seek a fifth term in Congress puts to bed persistent rumors of a possible U.S. Senate bid, and for now leaves State Sen. Michael Baumgartner as the sole Republican in the race against Sen. Maria Cantwell.

In recent weeks, Reichert’s senior staff have hinted to the press that an announcement on the Congressman’s decision was imminent. We are awaiting confirmation from Reichert’s office.

The territory of the Eighth Congressional District changed substantially during the state’s recent redistricting process making it a more solid Republican district, shedding ground in Pierce County while reaching across the Cascades into the typically red counties of Kittitas and Chelan.

In previous interviews with NW Daily Marker, Reichert has said that his seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee is an important asset for Washington State’s representation in the Congress and that the work he has done to expand foreign trade is unfinished, two factors that would weigh heavily on his decision.

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[photo credit: republicanconference]

Reichert Votes to Pass Bill Aimed at Curbing NLRB Authority Over Private Companies

On Thursday, the House passed the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act” (H.R. 2587) by a vote of 238 to 186, a measure that was drafted in direct response to the National Labor Relations Board’s formal complaint that the Boeing Company’s decision to open a its second 787 Dreamliner production line in South Carolina amounted to retaliation against unions. The company has maintained that the lower cost of doing business in South Carolina (a right to work state) was their primary rationale.

Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) voted “yes” along with the entire Republican House delegation from Washington State. Congressman and candidate for governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) voted against the bill along with the rest of Washington State’s House Democrats.

Reichert’s office sent out the following statement immediately after the vote:

“The United States is at an economic crossroads, but Americans are still the most successful people in the world thanks to our entrepreneurial spirit,” said Reichert.  “Time and time again, American businesses have proven that they can recover, grow, and hire if given the space to do so.  Innovative businessmen and women, not federal bureaucrats, will create jobs and lead this country back to an era of prosperity.  Government should help them in this task, not get in the way.

“It is not the role of the federal government to tell private businesses where they should or should not set up shop,” continued Reichert.  “Allowing this kind of interference would not only be detrimental to individual businesses, but would set a dangerous precedent for all private ventures.  Far-reaching government regulation has prolonged our economic downturn and cost American jobs.  If the NLRB is allowed to interfere I fear businesses may begin avoiding our region altogether; believing that if they build and hire in Washington state, the federal government will never again allow them the flexibility they need to continuously adapt their operation.  I cast my vote today hoping that H.R. 2587 will encourage regulators to loosen their grip and allow American businesses to do what they have always done – succeed.”

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[photo courtesy of the Boeing Company]

Bloomberg TV Anchor Phillip Yin Confirms Interest in Senate Run to Unseat Cantwell in 2012

For most of the summer, speculation about a Republican mystery candidate who might be contemplating a run against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has circulated with precious few real clues about who Candidate X might be. The waiting is over.

NW Daily Marker has learned that Phillip Yin – news reporter and anchor for Bloomberg Television and Washington native – is the latest to join a small field of Republicans to set their sights on unseating Cantwell next year.

It was 2:00 p.m.Wednesday for me and 5:00 a.m.  Thursday, when Yin spoke to me by phone from Hong Kong. (Yin has lived between Hong Kong and Seattle for career reasons.) During our brief conversation, Yin confirmed his interest in running to become Washington State’s next U.S. Senator and said the he will make that choice soon.

“We are in the final process of making a decision to run for the United State Senate,” Yin told me. Yin foresees making a firm decision about entering the race in mid-October.

Yin’s candidate toolkit is also impressive. MBA from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Strong record of local civic involvement. Hefty private sector experience with overlapping careers in investments and media. In fact, his level of personal achievement might elicit questions about why he would leave a successful career to run for public office. For Yin, improving the economic state of the nation is a necessity worth putting it all on the line.

“The track that America is on is certainly wrong, and we’re not going to fix the problems overnight but I think we can get moving at least in the right direction,” Yin said.

Yin’s name now sits among the comfortably small list of official “maybes” and speculated candidates.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) recently announced his intention to form an exploratory committee as early as next month.

Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel confirmed in July his interest in the race and committed to making a decision sometime after his late summer wedding that took place last weekend.

Finally, persistent talk about a possible entry into the race by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) could continue because of developments in Washington State’s redistricting process. Three of the four proposed congressional maps released Tuesday by Washington State’s Redistricting Commission pushed a large part Reichert’s 8th Congressional District – currently situated in Eastern King County and portions of Pierce County – into Eastern Washington, changes that could affect Reichert’s decision to stay put or seek higher office.

Those sitting on the fence might also be emboldened to jump in after a recent poll of statewide voters found that only 38 percent of respondents felt that Cantwell deserves re-election. Washington State Republican Party Chair Kirby Wilbur shared the results from a Moore Information poll that was taken of 500 people in Washington State over September 10-11.

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Washington U.S. Senate Race: GOP Closer to Finding a Candidate

Republicans in Washington State do not yet have a declared candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell next year, but the list of potential contenders continues to grow.

State Senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) is testing the waters now with the possible formation of an exploratory committee reported yesterday by NW Daily Marker. Though Baumgartner has only been in public office for less than a full term he brings with him a youthful charismatic image that partners well with an impressive personal history. A check this morning of BaumgartnerForSenate.com finds a site under construction.

In interviews given to NW Daily Marker, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) has categorically left the door open to consider jumping in, but using the same analogy has not stepped out onto the front stoop to address issues in the race. He has, however, voiced a desire to continue growing Washington’s influence in Congress from his seat on Ways and Means. Because of population shifts in Washington, this year’s redistricting could result in some significant changes to the makeup of Reichert’s 8th District, a factor that could have great weight in Reichert’s ultimate decision.

The only potential entrant who has made public statements directed squarely at Cantwell and her record has been Seattle-based media consultant and former White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel. Stanzel’s identification with voters is very low, but observers should not discount the effect of free media. When his name began to circulate as a person of interest, a week-long drip-drip of media coverage followed (including a boost from conservative pundit Dana Perino) and he was not shy about speaking with the press. Stanzel has consistently said he will make a decision about the race shortly after his wedding in early September.

Buzz around former television anchor and 2009 King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison has subsided, as has similar talk that Port of Seattle Commission President Bill Bryant might run to unseat Cantwell.

A sixth mystery candidate continues to fly below the radar, though public chatter on social media last week indicated that party insiders have met with Candidate X.

Still, not one candidate has done more than tip-toe around the idea of possibly thinking about considering a run to challenge a well-heeled but politically vulnerable sitting U.S. Senator at a time when congressional approval ratings are shockingly low.

It is now September 2nd, a year and a several days away from the 2012 general election. There has not been a public poll of the potential field since late spring. Getting in or staying out may boil down to a gut-check by those on the long list of maybes. Those who believe enough in their own chances to win over Washington’s complex electorate will need to take a measured leap of faith, and maybe that’s the proper litmus test.

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Working Washington and Soup Line Protests Are Just New Facade for Big Labor

The 1960s had their love-ins and sit-ins and the new millennium will now have its first soup-in. On Thursday, the group Working Washington will be performing their own brand of culinary street theater, staging what they call a “Depression-era unemployment line, with free soup for the unemployed” in the vicinity of Congressman Dave Reichert’s district office on Mercer Island. The flavor of the day? You guessed it: class warfare consommé.

Working Washington spokesperson Anne Martens is quoted at The Stranger’s Slog blog as saying, “We’ve had enough of Rep. Reichert’s support of Wall Street and the very rich at the expense of the rest of us. He’s our Congressman and his job is to stand up for us. Let’s tell him we need good jobs now.”

The group is organizing a similar protest targeting Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Spokane, begging the question: How does a group of starving unemployed folks organize and coordinate on both sides of the state?

If you sense a larger hand may be pulling the strings, keep reading.

As a spokesperson for the concerns of the downtrodden, Martens herself has not spent much time living on the dole. According to her LinkedIn profile (screenshots are archived in case it magically disappears from the Interweb), her resume doing communications and media work for Democrats and progressives in Washington State is unbroken going back to 2008. Until June 2011, Martens worked communications for Seattle progressive locus Fuse, before which she was the Washington State Democratic Party’s communications director, before which she did independent work with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That takes us back to her role as messaging captain on the Yes on I-1000 Death with Dignity campaign in 2008.

But behind Martens and the façade of poverty her group projects is a familiar force in modern subversive politics. There are no disclosure and precious few clues on Working Washington’s Facebook page or their website to identify how the group is organized or funded, but a little investigative digging began to uncover bits and pieces about who and what is behind Working Washington.

Only one nonprofit is registered in the Washington State Corporations Division database using the name “Working Washington.” The organization’s directors are shown in state records as Sergio Salinas – president of SEIU Local 6 – and Ana Crapsey – listed on LinkedIn as being an administrator on the SEIU Washington State Council.

The Public Disclosure Commission also has received recent filings for a political committee calling itself “Working Washington PAC,” a group that registered on August 4th, 2011 after receiving an initial cash contribution of $1,000 from (wait for it) SEIU Healthcare 775NW. Adam Glickman is listed on PDC documents as chairman of Working Washington PAC; some guy named Adam Glickman-Flora also happens to sits on the executive board of SEIU Healthcare 775NW.

If those facts aren’t enough to satisfy your craving for a good Perry Mason reveal, a listing for Working Washington found on a Democratic grassroots networking website has links to the official Working Washington website, lists the group as a non-profit advocacy organization, and gives a contact email with an SEIU 775NW address.

Organized labor spent truckloads of money during this off-year cycle in the state of Wisconsin to fight Republican efforts to regain some ground in collective bargaining. The SEIU and AFL-CIO were looking for a knockout punch in the recall elections – a clean sweep of all six state senators they targeted for removal. After realizing only milquetoast results – only two seats changed hands – any political strategist might think about going underground and rebranding.

Similar weak outcomes were seen from the union’s full court press during the most recent legislative session in Olympia. Union reps marched, they screamed, they caused unrest, but they did not achieve measurable victories.

Off with the purple shirts and on with the Working Washington green.

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[photo credit: flickr]

Washington Dems in House Split on Debt Ceiling Vote, Senate Not a Cake Walk

By a vote of 269-161 Monday, the House passed the Budget Control Act in an effort to avert the impending federal cash flow crisis. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate where debate has already begun in advance of a noon Tuesday vote requiring 60 votes for passage and to move the measure to the President’s desk for an enacting signature.

Among Washington State’s House delegation, only Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott from the 7th District of Seattle and Adam Smith from the 9th District voted against the bill, splitting ranks with Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash. 1st) and Norm Dicks (D-Wash. 6th). All of the state’s Republicans voted in favor of the measure.

According to sources, the deal passed by the House

As reported by Seattlepi.com, Democratic candidate for governor and 1st District Rep. Jay Inslee’s explanation for his yes vote may have some wondering why he cast the vote he did.

“Tonight I voted to avert an economic disaster,” Inslee said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this is a terrible and unbalanced proposal that doesn’t meet the expectation that American people have for solutions to our debt crisis.

Republicans were clearer-headed about their reasons for passing the bill along to the upper chamber.

“At this time last year, Congress was approving historic spending increases and record deficits. Now, with today’s deal, Congress is passing historic spending cuts and record cuts to the national debt,” 5th District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, said in a statement released shortly after the vote.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash. 8th) called Monday’s vote “a necessary step toward getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.”

“This debt deal is not perfect but this compromise, which passed today with my support, begins to restore fiscal sanity by cutting spending by a larger amount than the debt limit is increased and capping future spending to limit the growth of government; avoiding the consequences of a default without raising taxes or cutting seniors’ benefits,” said Reichert in an official statement.

Reichert also reinforced the Republican call for a balanced budget amendment.

“I am encouraged by the fact that this compromise will provide an incentive for the Administration to rally support for a balanced budget amendment, which I feel is essential to ensuring long-term fiscal accountability.” Reichert said.

The rules of the U.S. Senate are engineered for deliberation, however, and high-ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has already indicated that he will not support a bill that he says will create a 12-person appointed committee with unprecedented authority over government spending.

“We’re getting pretty far away from the traditions of this body when you don’t publicly debate a budget, you create a committee of limited numbers of people to produce legislation that can’t be amended,” Sessions said in a speech made from the Senate floor Monday night.

Sessions has been a lone voice of caution for weeks, warning that an eleventh-hour debt deal could contain unknown complications on which legislators would not have the proper time to consider. In late June, Sessions asked his colleagues to cancel their recess in order to tackle a debt ceiling fix in time to allow for full deliberation and transparency:

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Live from Korea: Rep. Reichert Talks Trade, Boeing v. NLRB, and Senate 2012

In an interview conducted by phone today, Congress Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) spoke from South Korea saying that trade talks between the U.S. and the Asian nation were achieving a “win-win” consensus toward a key free trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs and open markets.

Reichert also commented on the battle between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board, and about rumors of a run for Sen. Maria Cantwell’s seat when it comes up in 2012.

Washington state’s 8th district congressman traveled to South Korea this week with the U.S. trade delegation led by current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. He is accompanied by House colleagues Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and a team of Commerce Department staff.

During preparations for a morning visit to the DMZ, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) shared an optimistic progress report for an economic agreement with South Korea, Washington state’s fourth largest trading partner.

“There is a very strong voice here that says this is a win-win, in more than just the economic sense but also in the national security sense for Korea, the region and the United States,” the congressman said.

But the chickens have yet to hatch, and Reichert senses that Korea’s attention will fixed on the Congress as the debate warms up.

“The people in Korea, in general, are very excited about this agreement and it does appear as though they will move forward, watching us of course in the House as the bills come up,” Reichert predicted.

Within a free trade agreement that Reichert and the U.S. delegation believe is a win-win, in America’s ‘win’ column is an abundance of new economic opportunity for U.S. and Washington state businesses that would kick in upon enactment.

“Immediately, about 80% of the tariffs on our goods that are shipped [to Korea] will be removed,” Reichert stated. “Down the road, about five years later, almost 92% of the tariffs will be removed… That includes — especially for Washington State when you look at the services industry — insurance companies, mortgage companies, lawyers and education and technology… there’s almost immediate market access for businesses like Microsoft and others.”

“In the agricultural area, on our Eastern side of the state, there’s also benefit there… The tariffs are almost eliminated over a five to ten-year period of time and almost immediate access to the market here.”

Reichert also chimed in about the hot feud between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists, saying that unions represent workers best when they understand that “the benefit to their membership is directly linked to the health of the organization they work for.”

“Washington State, in general, has not been a friendly environment for business, for more than one reason, taxes of course are one,” Reichert added.

The recent news that Gov. Chris Gregoire will travel to the Paris Air Show with a delegation of union representatives later this year – where a talk with Airbus executives about the advantages of doing business in Washington may be on the agenda – could be seen as an escalation in the IAM’s campaign of retaliation for Boeing’s decision to build planes in business-friendly, union-neutral South Carolina.

Reichert has experience on both sides of the table – as an employee and as a sheriff negotiating contracts with the union – and does not reject the legitimate role of unions. “Unions work in some organizations and they don’t work in others,” Reichert said, going on to say that they work best when there is mutual respect for the needs of both parties.

“In Boeing’s situation there hasn’t been this cooperative, congenial atmosphere,” the congressman said.

I also asked Reichert for comment on persistent rumors that he will run for Sen. Maria Cantwell’s seat in 2012. Chuckling a bit, he repeated a stock answer many local reporters can recite as easily as the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I never shut the door on any opportunities and it’s too early to make those sorts of decisions.”

But as a senior member in the majority on the House Ways and Means Committee, sitting on the Trade and Healthcare Subcommittees, Reichert still sees great value for the state sticking in his current post.

“I am very much enjoying Ways and Means,” Reichert said. “I have seniority on that committee. For Washington State, my presence there is very much a benefit.”

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[photo credit: flickr]

[This article first appeared at RedCounty.com.]

Washington Congressional Delegation Should Stand With Boeing, Not NLRB

On Wednesday the unelected National Labor Relations Board threatened action against aerospace giant Boeing if the company would not agree to build a new assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner in Washington State, a warning made in direct challenge to the company’s decision last fall to build planes in Charleston, South Carolina.

As Angie Vogt wrote today at RedCounty.com:

The NLRB has moved with an order that seeks to actually prevent Boeing from completing construction of it’s 787 plant in South Carolina, where 1000 hired workers are due to begin working in July and force it to continue doing business with the hostile unions of Washington state. Joe Trauger, a vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, stated that if the complaint order succeeds,”no company will be safe from the NLRB stepping in to second-guess its business decisions on where to expand or whom to hire,” he said.

Prior to Boeing’s announcement of the South Carolina decision last October, it was the desire of most in the Puget Sound that every one of the company’s newest commercial jet – the sky-dominating, groundbreaking 787 Dreamliner – should be assembled exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. It was therefore a punch to the gut of local aerospace workers and civic leaders when the Boeing Company decided last fall to choose South Carolina as the site of its second 787 production line.

Yet, while many lamented the loss of future jobs—and an ever-weakening claim to the title Jet City—there also seemed to be a bittersweet appreciation for the business reasons underlying the company’s choice. Faced with rising costs of labor in its Washington workforce, perpetual union demands for wage and benefit increases, and fierce price competition from an overseas rival fed by heavy subsidies, Boeing needed to get drastically creative. The South Carolina decision was the result.

Despite the free market realities faced by Boeing, the NLRB in its complaint lashes out, abandoning logic like a spurned lover, alleging that the decision was only a way of retaliating against the victimized unions. In order to save face, the NLRB suggests that the building of a new 787 line in Washington will put a broken house back together again. In reality, it would only create additional burdens on Boeing as it fights to retain its position in the internal market for aircraft putting the company back to square one in its attempt to fend off Airbus.

But the NLRB’s recipe for reconciliation is itself a perverted concept of justice, based on a one-sided presentation of the history of the relationship between Boeing and its labor unions.

It can hardly be argued that Boeing’s decision was not a direct result of rising costs of Washington state labor and heightened frustration with union negotiating tactics, though the company will try to keep a straight face and do so). But to suggest that the manufacturer’s actions were only a matter of retaliation skips past an important fact. In the history between Boeing and organized labor, the machinists unions repeatedly exacted their own manner of pain on their employer. Over the years, strikes have cost the company billions and caused months in accumulated production delays, impacting the bottom line feeding all mouths–stockholders, line workers and executives.

It would be naïve to assume that the NLRB would present a full accounting of that raucous chronicle—they are an unelected, unaccountable, taxpayer-funded advocate for organized labor, not employers or Boeing’s stockholders. Though the President, in theory, represents the interests of all his constituents equally, it’s folly to expect him to bite at his union leash.

It will, therefore, fall then on the shoulders of Washington State’s Congressional delegation to avoid temptation to directly or indirectly support the NLRB’s efforts. Riding shotgun with a do-over on a development that was bad for local communities would be a tacit endorsement of the use of federal power to interfere with the decisions a business makes to ensure its own future.

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[photo credit: flickr]

[This article first appeared at Redcounty.com]

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