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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/28/2010

Worker rights probably DID influence Northrop Grumman

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell put his eggs in his business policy basket during the campaign, and now one of them has hatched. Northrop Grumman is coming to town, setting up national headquarters either steps from the Pentagon or near Dulles airport.

For McDonnell, the news is especially sweet because it puts a brick in the pro-jobs, pro-business platform he's tried to build for himself ever since he first launched his bid for governor.

It's great news for everyone else in Virginia, too. Regardless how much credit you hand McDonnell, the decision gives conservatives and liberals a chance to unite in a "take that, Maryland!" moment. Remember the Baltimore Sun's 10-point plan for luring NG to Maryland, and away from Virginia? Looks like infuriating traffic, absurdly expensive speeding tickets and our governor's views on cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators weren't enough to keep one of the country's largest military contractors from making its home here.

Speaking of our governor's controversy-inciting master's thesis, there was a lot of speculation last month that his exclusion of sexual orientation from the state's nondiscrimination policy would sour large employers like NG on my state. Peter Galuszka, writer for the Richmond blog Bacon's Rebellion, suggested this in a post here yesterday.

But I would argue that the opposite is true.

Employers look for environments that carry the least amount of risk. They want fewer ways for employees to sue them, not more. NG probably does have the solid reputation for diversity that Galuszka states. But the last thing it wants is for that reputation to be marred by a nasty lawsuit.

If that's true, Virginia's shorter list of employee rights would have gone on the "pros" side of NG's comparison sheet. In Virginia, you can't sue for being fired because of your sexual orientation or genetic information, but you can in Maryland.

D.C., of course, has a much longer list than either state, adding personal appearance, matriculation, family responsibilities, political affiliation, family status and place of residence or business.

As Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) said yesterday, "There is not a company in the U.S. or in the world who would move someplace because they have a better opportunity to be sued."

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | April 28, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Virginia, economy  
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Next: Northrop Grumman: Arlington or Fairfax?


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Posted by: YaminahJocelyn | April 28, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Cunningham,
As far as the motivation for Northrop Grumman you cite, maybe and maybe not.
A few other factors may have had greater weight.
Topping the list is proximity to the Pentagon and Dulles airport, both very important for a defense contractor.
Next, NG has a track record in Va., thanks to Newport News Shipbuilding and the infamous IT contract.
Virginia has been actively snaring corporate prospects from Maryland and the District for at least 20 years via favorable tax laws, juicy incentives and the anti-labor right to work law (not that many in a headquarters office would be in a union).
Your idea might have been a factor, but you can't say for certain it was or how big a role it played.

Peter Galuszka

Posted by: pgaluszka | April 28, 2010 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. Right-wing cog in the Military-Industrial Complex that sucks down corporate welfare. Why indeed would the choose Virginia?

Posted by: wd1214 | April 28, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, since Northrop Grumman has seuxal orientation in its own non-descrimination rules, it really doesn't matter what Virginia's law say.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | April 28, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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