The National Labor Relations Board is gently suggesting that Boeing should maintain a factory in Washington state instead of South Carolina. When the NLRB “gently suggests” something, that tends to involve filing a complaint that alleges unfair labor practices. In this case NLRB felt that Boeing’s relocation to the Palmetto State was retaliatory against the union that represents those who would work in the Washington plant.
As one would expect, conservatives roundly criticized the NLRB for bullying Boeing. Government, the allies of Boeing would argue, should not direct business practice, nor pick winners and losers in business matters.
But Boeing is hardly a poster child for the ideals of the free market.
In 2010, Boeing spent almost $18 million lobbying the government and over $2.6 million in campaign donations to candidates and PACs. In return for these efforts, Boeing rakes in over $16 billion in government contracts (second only to Lockheed Martin). That’s a pretty good return on investment.
Boeing isn’t alone – many companies, especially those in line for large defense department contracts, play the same game. But when a sizable chunk of any company’s business relies on the playing the political system, the company can’t be surprised when politics winds up getting in the way of business.