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Special Report

Boeing vs. NLRB: Who Will Win?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE KELLIHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS: How do our members in Seattle ever vote fairly on a contract offer? Are they voting on the offer, are they thinking, oh my god, it may cost me my job because what is Boeing going to retaliate and take next? And that is against the line in all 50 states.

SEN. LI NDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Thank god Boeing did not leave the United States. I can't think of a more damaging way to hurt job creation than for this complaint to be successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: And of course that complaint coming from the National Labor Relations Board when Boeing decided to set up shop in South Carolina, which is a right to work state.

Alright, we asked you before the break, who's gonna win this dispute between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board? 91 percent said Boeing, nine percent said the NLRB. It may be years before we get the decision.

So let's talk about it now with our panel. Jonathan, I'll start with you. I mean this hearing today in Seattle is just the beginning of something that could last for years. What do you make of this? Because the ramifications go far beyond just Washington and South Carolina, the two states at play here.

JONATHAN WEISMAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yeah, we now have Republicans calling for defunding the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It's a big political dispute, but remember it's also a political dispute that speaks to the polls of the parties. It's one where you have not seen Barack Obama comment on it, you haven't seen him pull back the NLRB. Because this is something that's talking to his labor constituents and the labor constituents have not been particularly happy with this president.

And the Republicans on their part, are talking to a certain constituency that cares about and understands the NLRB. But the vast middle of America, the people who will actually decide who the next president is, they are not tuned in on this at all. I see that the political fight keeps going on in the fringes and we won't know how it resolves for years.

BREAM: Charles, is it too politically radioactive for the president to get involved at this point?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. I mean it's the way that he wants to govern left without appearing to govern left. And that's a result of the midterm elections where he can't get any other stuff done because he lost control of the House of Representatives so it's all administrative. That's with the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, which is regulating in a way that would get him the kind of restrictions on energy production that he would get in cap and trade. But he lost on cap and trade in the Congress.

So it's a way to go under and around the legislative system, which I think is in and of itself a travesty. That three appointees packed by the union supporters are telling huge industry where and where it cannot build a factory.

This is a president who says he wants to double exports in the next five years, which is extremely important to any American economy. And here he is supporting by his silence the regulation of where the biggest exporter in our country, the Boeing Company, wants to reduce its cost by building in South Carolina so it can compete with Airbus. And he's undermining this. And of course, paying off the unions to him is more important than a healthy export economy.

BREAM: This could get uglier on Capitol Hill because now we have word that possibly Senator Lindsey Graham you heard there in the sound bite who is obviously from South Carolina may in some way block or hold up the president's Commerce Secretary nominee in exchange for the president maybe indicating or making some kind of statement that Boeing is an ethical company, that there wasn't any wrongdoing. Ya know Susan, how ugly could that get?

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: That is a real possibility. They are threatening to hold up nominees over the Free Trade Agreement. So this definitely could happen. Right now, Boeing is saying that they're pretty sure they're gonna lose this appeal in Seattle. And then when it moves higher to the full board. That they're gonna lose that as well. It's a Democratically-led board. So that's more than likely to happen.

Then it's gonna end up in the federal court system. And at that point, I think there's some confidence that the courts will side with Boeing on this. So ultimately, Boeing will probably prevail in the end. That's the conventional wisdom. But it's definitely, ya know, politically speaking, it's putting Democrats on the spot on this issue. And I think it really could turn into a big fight over nominees in the Senate for sure.

BREAM: And Jonathan, ya know, we got word on another big union fight today that just a short time ago the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has now upheld this law, that was very controversial. Remember the weeks of protest, and taking over the capital there in Madison. How do you think that that, along with this Boeing fight kind of sets up the stage for discussing the union issues in 2012 and in the race?

WEISMAN: Well, you know, the unions -- the unions have been mad at President Obama. They feel like he hasn't done, he hasn't done enough for them. They're not happy the he is now pushing the Columbia Free Trade Agreement, the Panama Free Trade Agreement, and the South Korea free Trade Agreement. They feel like he is not their man, the way they had expected.

So, when something like this happens, it's in the president's interest to keep stoking it because this is what is going to get the union voters riled up for 2012, not President Obama. They feel like, wow, they need the union voters to get out and vote. Right now, they are going to be voting against Republican governors like John Kasich in Ohio and like Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

BREAM: Charles, we know that the numbers are dipping for union membership in the U.S. So, it sounds like they're still very politically powerful though. Is that power waning?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's waning. And I think, as a result, they are resorting to non-democratic ways, that I think are scandalous to actually stop the will of the people. Wisconsin is perfect example. It has an election. It votes for a Republican governor who tells you what he's gonna do. The House and the Senate in Wisconsin also are Republican. And they pass a law legally. And it's challenged by the unions and the courts overturned in a kind of scandalous, weird decision by a lower court, by a Democrat. And now I think justice is done, it's been upheld, it was not done in an illegal or irregular manner.

But it's an example of how when you lose your support, in the public, as Democrats, liberals, unions have, especially in a midterm election, you undo it either administratively as Obama is doing with the NLRB or using the courts. That's not the way it's supposed to be done in America.

BREAM: Alright, panel, thank you very much. That's it for the panel. But please stay tuned. He is one of the most accomplished men in the world, but he wasn't always an angel while he was working his way up the ladder. The truth, next.

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