Update: Secret ballot inititatives may face legal challenge

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March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia: After facing lawsuit threats in January, four attorneys general, in South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, and South Dakota, entered into negotiations with the National Labor Relations Board over state secret ballot initiatives. However, these negotiations broke down this March after the AGs declined to sign confidentiality agreements. Since the breakdown, the NLRB is again considering its legal options.[1]

The initiatives in question, like South Dakota's Amendment K, were designed to guarantee the right of workers to vote secretly on unionization. However, the NLRB has argued that the measures are an invalid attempt to supersede the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which gives workers the right to public elections for unionization and allows employers to request a secret ballot afterward.[1]

While the fate of potential litigation is unclear, the attorneys general have already committed to "vigorously defending" their state laws.[2] After negotiations fell through, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley reiterated his commitment to defend Amendment K. Jackley argues, "We do not believe that a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the fundamental right to a secret ballot is in violation of a federal law."[1]

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