Alabama House passes secret ballot amendment

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March 10, 2011

By Al Ortiz

MONTGOMERY, Alabama: On March 9, 2011, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to approve an amendment that would guarantee the right to a secret ballot in votes of employee representation. With a tally of 63-31, the recent action will now send the proposal to the Alabama State Senate where it must face a similar vote before going on to the 2012 ballot.

The House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee approved of sending the measure to the Alabama House of Representatives for debate and vote the week before. The measure was introduced during 2011 state legislative session.[1]

Four similar measures that were approved on 2010 statewide ballots are currently under litigation after the United States federal government filed lawsuits to invalidate the new laws. The four measures appeared in four different states - Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah - on November 2, 2010 general election ballots. They asked voters to decide whether or not secret ballots should be fundamental rights in determining if workers are represented by a specific labor organization.

Then, on January 14 officials of the National Labor Relations Board stated the measures were unconstitutional. Specifically, officials argued that the approved measures conflict with federal law and argue the case based on the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. According to reports, currently the National Labor Relations Act allows for employees to use two methods to choose a union: a secret ballot election conducted by the board or by asking an employer to recognize a union following majority support with signed authorization cards.[2][3]

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