NLRB targets Arizona and South Dakota in secret ballot lawsuit
By Al Ortiz
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia: A pending federal lawsuit against four states concerning secret voting ballot measures will now moved forward, but only against two of those states. 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 measures allow secret union ballots as fundamental rights to workers and were on the November 2 general election ballots in those states. The NLRB has not filed anything yet, but does plan to do so in the next week or so.
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.
Officials of the NLRB have previously argued that the voter-approved measures are unconstitutional. Specifically, officials claimed that they 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.
- Arizona Save Our Secret Ballot Amendment, Proposition 113 (2010)
- South Carolina Secret Union Voting Amendment, Amendment 2 (2010)
- South Dakota Vote by Secret Ballot, Amendment K (2010)
- Utah Vote by Secret Ballot, Amendment A (2010)
- Update: Secret ballot inititatives may face legal challenge
- Four state Attorneys General draw battle lines in secret ballot lawsuit
- Feds challenge secret ballot measures in four states
- 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
- Rapid City Journal, "Feds may sue over secret ballot vote," March 18, 2011
- Bloomberg, "Secret-Ballot Union Votes in States Challenged by U.S.," January 14, 2011
- Rapid City Journal, "Feds prepare to sue South Dakota over secret ballot amendment," January 14, 2011