South Carolina Secret Union Voting Amendment, Amendment 2 (2010)

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The South Carolina Secret Union Voting Amendment, also known as Amendment 2, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the state of South Carolina as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.Approveda The measure asked voters to decide whether or not secret ballots should be fundamental rights in determining if workers are represented by a specific labor organization.

According to reports, some lawmakers stated that the measure was a counter to federal legislation that would possibly prohibit workers from union voting by secret ballot. The measure asked voters if "the fundamental right of an individual to vote by secret ballot is guaranteed for a designation, a selection or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization.” The measure was co-sponsored by, among others, Eric Bedingfield.[1][2][3]

Aftermath

On January 14 officials of the National Labor Relations Board said the measure, along with similar measures in Arizona, South Dakota and Utah, is unconstitutional and that the U.S. plans to invalidate the laws. Specifically, officials argue that the approved measures conflict with federal law and argue the case based on the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.[4]

The current National Labor Relations Act can be read here.

The National Labor Relations Board stated on April 22, 2011 that it will file lawsuits against Arizona and South Dakota over the 2010 voter-approved state constitutional amendments. The NLRB did not file anything at that time, but did plan to do so soon after their announcement. The lawsuit was officially filed against Arizona on May 6, 2011, with South Dakota to follow soon.[5][6][7]

Legal challenges will not be filed against Utah and South Carolina yet, if at all, according to the agency's acting general counsel, in order "to conserve limited federal and state agency resources and taxpayer funds."

After facing the legal threats in January, the four attorneys general in South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, and South Dakota, entered into negotiations with the NLRB over the secret ballot initiatives. This occurred after the AG's wrote a letter on January 27, 2011 to the agency saying that they would "vigorously defend" the constitutional changes. However, these negotiations broke down during March 2011 after the AGs declined to sign confidentiality agreements.[8]

NLRB lawsuit legislation

During the week of June 1, 2011, legislation was introduced by U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that aimed to stop the ability of the NLRB from suing states. The bill, HR 2118, specifically states that NLRB can sue individuals and companies, but cannot sue states challenging laws that they say conflict with the NLRA. According to Chaffetz: "H.R. 2118 ensures that states that choose to have pro-growth, right-to-work policies will not be intimidated and threatened by the NLRB. Deciding whether or not a state action violates federal law should be made by the DOJ, not a board of union friendly, politically motivated appointees."[9]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official election results of the measure follow:

South Carolina Amendment 2 (Secret Union Voting)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,090,107 86.2%
No174,47313.8%

Official results via the South Carolina State Election Commission.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title that voters saw read:[10][11]

Must Article II of the Constitution of this State, relating to the right of suffrage, be amended by adding Section 12 so as to provide that the fundamental right of an individual to vote by secret ballot is guaranteed for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization?
Explanation:
A ‘Yes' vote will give employees the constitutional right to vote by secret ballot when they are voting on whether to be represented by a labor union.
Yes []
No []

Summary

The summary of the proposed amendment read:[10]

To propose and amendment to Article II of the Constitution of South Carolina, 1895, relating to the right of suffrage, by adding Section 12, so as to guarantee the right of an individual to vote by secret ballot for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization.

Constitutional changes

The measure was proposed to amend Article 2 of the South Carolina Constitution by adding Section 12 to read:[10]

Section 12. The fundamental right of an individual to vote by secret ballot is guaranteed for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization.

Support

Opposition

Opponents

  • The South Carolina Democratic Party stated they were opposed to the ballot measure, according to spokeswoman Keiana Page.[13]
  • Kimberly Freeman Brown, Executive Director of the American Rights at Work, stated in a letter to the editor of the Times and Democrat, "So let's be honest with South Carolina voters. This amendment is more about political opportunism than a genuine concern for protecting the state's workers - an unwelcome distraction from the far right at a time when our focus should be on revamping the economy and rebuilding our dwindling middle class."[14]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of South Carolina ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Greenville News published an editorial in support of the measure stating, "This measure is an important step to ensure workplaces are free from the intimidation that would accompany so-called “card-check” elections. Voters deserve their say on this amendment that would protect workers and grow business in South Carolina."[15]
  • The Times and Democrat endorsed the measure by stating, "While there is a difference in a person voting in government elections and votes for private organizations or businesses, it is hard to oppose an individual having the right to decide on an issue such as representation by a union without having to stand up and make his or her position known. The amendment should be approved."[16]
  • The Post and Courier was in favor of the measure, arguing, "Voters should also approve Amendment 2 to "guarantee the right of an individual to vote by secret ballot for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization."[17]
  • The Spartanburg Herald Journal urged voters to vote 'yes' on the measure, writing in an editorial, "The proposed amendment is the response of South Carolina lawmakers to the threat to workers' rights in Congress. Voters should approve it."[18]

Possible litigation

It was reported that both the passage or failure of the measure could have yielded a lawsuit in the state. Both sides of the issue confirmed this, according to reports.[12]

Path to the ballot

The measure was approved by the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina State Senate, with the House voting 106-12 and the Senate voting 33-9. Section 1 of Article XVI of the South Carolina Constitution says that a legislatively-referred amendment can go on the ballot if approved by a 2/3rds vote of each house of the South Carolina State Legislature.[19]

See also

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Additional reading

References

  1. Charleston Regional Business Journal, " S.C. Senate passes card check protection," March 11, 2010
  2. The Sun News, "SC voters to decide secret union voting measure," March 10, 2010
  3. South Carolina Legislature, "H 3305"
  4. Rapid City Journal, "Feds prepare to sue South Dakota over secret ballot amendment," January 14, 2011
  5. Law360.com, "NLRB To Sue SD, Ariz. Over Union Ballot Laws," April 25, 2011
  6. The Associated Press, "NLRB will sue Ariz., SD over union laws," April 25, 2011
  7. East Valley Tribune, "Federal regulators sue Arizona over union amendment," May 6, 2011
  8. Rapid City Journal, "Feds may sue over secret ballot vote," March 18, 2011
  9. The Hill, "Chaffetz seeks to end NLRB's ability to sue states," June 6, 2011
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 South Carolina State House, "Bill 3305"
  11. South Carolina State Election Commission, "2010 Constitutional Amendment Questions," accessed August 31, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 WSOCTV.com, "McMaster Leads Support For Union Amendment In SC," October 18, 2010
  13. The Augusta Chronicle, "S.C. ballot measure asks about protecting hunting," July 28, 2010
  14. The Times and Democrat, "Anti-union amendment is far-right distraction," October 30, 2010
  15. Greenville News, "Greenville News editorial: Workers deserve a secret ballot," March 22, 2010
  16. The Times and Democrat, "S.C. will approve secret ballot votes on labor unions," October 21, 2010
  17. The Post and Courier, "Vote 'Yes' on amendments," October 25, 2010
  18. Go Upstate.com, "Vote yes to four constitutional ballot questions," October 27, 2010
  19. The Sun News, "SC voters to decide secret union voting measure," March 10, 2010