BY WESLEY P. HESTER
Republicans are putting increased pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former governor Timothy M. Kaine to stand up for Virginia’s right-to-work laws. Again.
George Allen, a Republican candidate and fellow former governor, has been calling on Kaine to take a stand on an ongoing dispute between the National Labor Relations Board and Boeing. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined him.
Boeing recently opened a new nonunion plant in right-to-work state South Carolina. The National Labor Relations Board has filed suit, claiming that Boeing is punishing its union workers in Washington, a union state, for going on strike, and that the move to South Carolina was illegal. Boeing claims that all the jobs being created are new and will have no impact on the existing line in Washington state.
Calling the lawsuit an attack on right-to-work laws in all states, Bolling and Cuccinelli — in a release sent from the Republican Party of Virginia — urged Kaine to voice support for Virginia’s labor laws, as he did in 2006.
“Every candidate for statewide office should publicly reject the NLRB’s anti-business policies and ensure employers and workers alike that they will do everything they can to support our state’s right-to-work law,” said Bolling.
“This NLRB assault is a jobs creation program… for China. Does Tim Kaine really support this sort of extra-legal, Virginia-job-destroying policy? I think Virginians deserve the right to know before Kaine is given power to affect the NLRB in the U.S. Senate,” said Cuccinelli.
“Governor Kaine supports the existing law that a company can open, locate or relocate wherever it wants,” responded Kaine campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine, adding that he ”relied on that law to get many businesses to locate in Virginia during his time as Governor, earning Virginia the distinction of the ‘Best State for Business’ all four years of his term.”
Hoffine added: “Of course, it has long been the law that a company cannot retaliate against employees for bargaining activity. The current NLRB case isn’t about the right to locate anywhere, it’s about the narrow question of whether Boeing is acting specifically to retaliate against its own employees. That factual question will be decided by the courts.”
In 2006, Kaine voiced “strong support” for Virginia’s right-to-work law, pledging to veto any attempt to overturn them.
Republicans point to Kaine’s opposition to Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to overhaul his state’s collective bargaining rules earlier this year as reason to question his previous support for right-to-work laws. As Democratic National Committee chairman, Kaine said during the Wisconsin impasse that Republicans had decided to ”wage a war against their own employees.”
PolitiFact Virginia in February found false a claim that Kaine was trying to stop right-to-work laws in Wisconisn.
The push for Kaine to take a stand on the issue is similar to the one employed by Democrats in recent weeks, urging Allen to say whether he supports House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan.
So far, Allen has not directly answered the question, praising aspects of the plan but choosing not to say how he would vote as a member of Congress.