U.S. Rep. Tim Scott said he asked President Obama on Wednesday about intervening in the National Labor Relations Board’s current dispute with the way Boeing Co. decided to build a new plant in the Lowcountry.
Scott was among dozens of Republican congressional leaders who met with Obama to discuss the nation’s debt ceiling and efforts to revive its economy.
As their meeting broke up, Scott got a chance for a brief exchange with the president.
“I suggested to him that if he’s interested in growing our fragile economy, one of the first things we do to get that accomplished is to get the NLRB out of the way of the private sector and not to meddle in right-to-work states like South Carolina,” Scott said.
“His response was ultimately this has become a legal issue, and ultimately, it’s challenging for him to weigh in,” Scott said.
The NLRB recently filed suit against the aerospace giant, saying its decision to build its new 787 aircraft line at Charleston International Airport was an illegal form of retaliation against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Washington state for past strikes.
The board’s decision has been criticized widely among S.C. political leaders.
Scott did not seem entirely satisfied with Obama’s answer. “My thought process is: This is not dodgeball,” he said. “Ultimately, he makes the appointments. … I think he could send a loud and clear message if he were to terminate some of the folks who are under his purview.”
Boeing plans to contest the allegations and has said it picked South Carolina based on several factors, including a desire to offset the impact of future strikes at its highly unionized manufacturing hub near Seattle.
The NLRB is seeking a court order requiring Boeing to maintain the secondary 787 assembly line in the Pacific Northwest – an order that could halt the company’s plans to build in North Charleston.
Scott was among top House Republicans who pressed Obama on Wednesday for more leadership and a detailed plan on budget cuts.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the meeting was productive despite the absence of any signs of progress. He also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his assertions that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marketplace will “end Medicare as we know it.”
The White House session came as the GOP sought to build pressure on Obama for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government’s ability to borrow.
Scott said Obama has heard of the Boeing-NLRB issue before. Last month, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he had been in contact with the administration to voice his displeasure about the lawsuit.
“I feel like it registered on his radar, and that’s important,” Scott said of the president. “The bottom line is we have to challenge all things and all people who stand in the way of what we believe is the best path to prosperity, which is the free market, the private sector. The NLRB is doing just that. I wanted to convey that point to him, and I think he got it.”