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Legal battle yields federal legislation blocking NLRB from suing states
WASHINGTON, D.C.: A legal issue concerning four voter-approved ballot measures has taken yet another turn. A political battle between the National Labor Relations Board and four states - Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah - appears to be brewing.
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 by challenging laws that they say conflict with the National Lablor Relations Act. 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."
The legislation stems from an ongoing lawsuit filed on January 14, 2011, when officials of the National Labor Relations Board said that measures in Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah were unconstitutional and that the U.S. planned to invalidate the laws. The proposals were introduced to extend the right of residents to use a secret ballot in union organizing votes.
The National Labor Relations Board then 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 soon to follow.
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."
The current National Labor Relations Act can be read here.
- 2010 ballot measures
- Arizona 2010 ballot measures
- List of Arizona ballot measures
- Arizona Legislature
- The Hill, "Chaffetz seeks to end NLRB's ability to sue states," June 6, 2011
- Rapid City Journal,"Feds prepare to sue South Dakota over secret ballot amendment," January 14, 2011
- Law360.com, "NLRB To Sue SD, Ariz. Over Union Ballot Laws," April 25, 2011
- The Associated Press, "NLRB will sue Ariz., SD over union laws," April 25, 2011
- East Valley Tribune, "Federal regulators sue Arizona over union amendment," May 6, 2011