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Latest News - January 2011

January 14, 2011
Secret-Ballot Union Votes in States Challenged by U.S.
Source: Bloomberg
By: Holly Rosenkrantz

Requiring secret-ballot elections for employees seeking union representation in four states is unconstitutional and the U.S. will invalidate the laws, the National Labor Relations Board said.

Attornies general in Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah were notified today that measures approved by voters on Nov. 2 for employees to pick a union conflict with federal law, the agency said today in a statement. The NLRB, which rules on unfair labor practices, gave the states two weeks to respond before federal lawsuits are filed.

The National Labor Relations Act gives employees two ways to choose a union: by a vote in a secret-ballot election conducted by the NLRB, or by persuading an employer to recognize a union after showing majority support with signed authorization cards, a process known as card-check.

“Governors and state legislators are trying to eliminate unions and the voices of working families as payback to the corporate CEOs that funded their campaigns,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO labor federation. “This letter simply and clearly states the law: the rules for how workers choose to join a union or not is governed by federal law.”

The labor movement, seeking to make it easier for workers to unionize, has supported legislation that would give workers the right to bypass a secret ballot, using the card-check process, if a majority declare that they want a union. States have responded with ballot initiatives to require a secret vote.

Overstock, Utah

Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock.com and a backer of the Utah initiative, said an NLRB lawsuit won’t block the state measure. “We paid lawyers to research if this would be pre-empted, and it will not,” he said.

The amendments are in effect in South Dakota and Utah, and are scheduled to take come effective soon in Arizona and South Carolina, the NLRB said.

The ballot measures in the four states were supported by more than 2.6 million voters, according to tallies posted on ballotpedia.org, while 1.1 million were opposed.

 

 


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