Irony Takes Precedence In Rep. Issa's NLRB Investigation

August 16, 2011 10:00 am ET — Brian Powell

Darrell Issa

The House Oversight Committee's investigation into the controversy between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Boeing, Co. was ramped up over the weekend, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) accused the NLRB of "going rogue" by refusing to hand over documents subpoenaed by the committee. Meanwhile, the NLRB argues that releasing the documents would threaten their ongoing law enforcement action.  

Issa elaborated on the status of the investigation in a statement to The Daily Caller this weekend:

"The National Labor Relations Board and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon have thus far failed to comply with a lawful subpoena," Issa said in a statement. "This refusal by NLRB to abide by the law further heightens concerns that this is a rogue agency acting improperly. The integrity of NLRB and its leadership is clearly in question." [...]

 "The public has a right to know the truth about why a government agency would choose to take action to benefit organized labor, that threatens thousands of non-union jobs in South Carolina, while setting a precedent impacting manufacturers across the country," Issa said. "It is imperative that Congress get complete facts about NLRB's decision-making process in this matter. Its continued refusal to fully cooperate will not deter this committee as it moves forward in efforts to determine what occurred and to hold NLRB officials to account."

Contrary to Issa's assertions that the NLRB investigation will be establishing precedent, however, experts say the allegations in the complaint are in fact routine and a "classic" case of labor law violations.  Actually, in a twist of palpable irony, it appears that complying with Issa's demands would form the feared dangerous new precedent. In response to Issa's public expressions of dissatisfaction with the documents already turned over to the committee, NLRB's Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a statement that read in part:

"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time since 1940 that the National Labor Relations Board has been the subject of a Congressional subpoena. I am disappointed and surprised by this development. For months, my staff and I have diligently tried to satisfy the Committee's desire for information while also preserving the integrity of our process and the rights of the parties in a case being actively litigated. [...]

Many of the remaining documents sought by the Committee will be made available as the trial proceeds and evidence is entered into the court record. These include statements of witnesses who will testify, and statements by Boeing and the Machinists Union whose premature disclosure could interfere with the fairness of the trial and any possible settlement negotiations. In addition, we believe that the premature disclosure of any documents from the investigative file of an open case would establish precedent that could endanger future cases.