Feds to Sue Arizona and South Dakota Over Anti-Union Law That Guarantees Secret Ballot Elections

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labor union.jpg

The Obama Administration is gearing up to sue Arizona again.

In a letter to Arizona and three other states, the National Labor Relations Board's lawyer announced  plans to sue over state laws that guarantee the right to a secret ballot election in unionization efforts. While the letter went out to four states that have such laws, NLRB lawyer Lafe Solomon writes that the feds will only sue Arizona and South Dakota so the government can save money. Gee, how did Arizona get so lucky?

The secret ballot guarantee became a constitutional amendment in Arizona after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 113 in November's election. Essentially, it means that a company can only become unionized after a majority of the employees approve the union in a secret ballot election.

Labor unions prefer a system called "card check," in which the company becomes unionized after more than 50 percent of employees sign a form that says they want the union. Because that process isn't secret and occurs over time, instead of in one decisive election, unions know which employees aren't playing along -- and can apply pressure as needed.

In a pre-election report on Prop 113, labor unions claimed that "the measure is deceptive and written to appear to support workers' rights when it would actually force a secret-ballot election even when a majority of workers and their employer agree to skip it."

The fallacy there is obvious: If there's no secret ballot election, no one knows what the "majority of workers" actually want. If the majority of workers really wants unionization, the union has nothing whatsoever to worry about.

Democrats in Congress, many of whom take huge contributions from labor unions, attempted to pass a federal law two years ago that would have required companies to accept unionization if most workers sign the cards. The bill failed, but not before stirring up opponents who lobbied for state referendums nationwide on the issue. Arizona lawmakers, who typically never pass on any right-wing idea, passed Prop 113 to voters -- 60 percent of whom said "yes."

The feds balked after the election, saying Arizona's new law and that in three other states was unconstitutional and threatening to sue.

Federal and state officials have been talking about a possible settlement. But the April 22 letter to state Attorney General Tom Horne states that it seems impossible to avoid litigation. Lawsuits will be filed "shortly," Solomon writes.

You'd think it wouldn't matter so much, what with the card-check bill dying on Capitol Hill two years ago. But Horne tells New Times that the state plans to fight the lawsuit vigorously, in part because the Obama Administration seems bent on forcing card-check on Americans through regulatory acts instead of legislation. In other words, Obama could possibly mandate the unionization of companies through a card-check process without passing a new law.

Horne says that secret ballots are a no-brainer and that by coming out against them, "the Obama Administration is acting like the Fox News stereotype of (itself)."

Governor Jan Brewer sent a letter to the feds back in February, calling the threat of a lawsuit over this issue "unfortunate and surprisingly undemocratic."

Unlike the lawsuit over SB1070, losing this one could mean that the feds will end up metaphorically ripping something straight out of Arizona's constitution -- something that was decided fair and square in a secret ballot election.

UPDATE May 6 -- Feds follow through on their threat and sue Arizona.

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Evelyn G. Johnson
Evelyn G. Johnson

people his not given up with the crooks in the white house we will have to wipe them all out soon or its over for us

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

Mistalee, your anecdote about your wife hammers home my point, not yours. Your wife can choose to let people know she supports the union or not, and take the consequence of her actions if the employer retaliates. With secret ballot, employees can support the union without letting the employer know, thus possibly saving their job. That's why it's good for the union. I think pushing to eliminate secret ballots in the long run will hurt the labor unions, because people will naturally see them as undemocratic and more interested in winning than fair play. You may have heard that democracy is the worst form of government, except for the rest of them. Same with secret ballot elections for unions. It may not be a perfect system, but it's better than the rest -- and certainly better than your pro-union, ultra-biased stance on card check.

As for the comment by Bad Shot: You're the one being misleading. Yes, "card check" happens now, but not "card check" as envisioned by the Free Choice Act, which would make card check the final word. Clearly, you have no faith in American workers if you think they can't handle voting in a secret ballot election.


"The fallacy there is obvious: If there's no secret ballot election, no one knows what the "majority of workers" actually want. If the majority of workers really wants unionization, the union has nothing whatsoever to worry about."

Ray, you are one naive mofo.

My wife's employer (former) went through the election process more than three years ago. First thing the employer did was fire and harass from their jobs every union supporter that they could prior to the election. Including my wife, who was known to support the union and who was let go two hours before the union vote.

Second thing they did was bring in a mess of New York lawyers. Three years later, the case is still tied up in court and there is STILL no union representation; and the employer has had three years to witchhunt pro-union workers.

So you want to boohoo because card-check might make it easier for unions to "pressure" workers? Get with it, Ray - the heavy pressure, including the firings, is done by management in the lead-up to the union vote. This, at most, makes it a little less one-sided.

It's great that the Feds are suing Arizona. I hope the law is overturned.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Under the Articles of Conferderation this act by the fed would indeed have been unlawful. States rights would have come first, all the time. This country was never made to be, in the first place. The government was supposed to a weak body that did not govern the states. Each state was to have equal power and to run itself as it saw fit. By pushing through the constitution (as it was by forceful action on the men that attended that series of gatherings) it undermined our freedoms and placed the people under the wealthy and the central bank that controlled the creation of money. It continues today with the federal reserve bank which is not federal it's a private bank and the government now sees fit to sue one of it's states. Unions as you can see are not for the workers but act as agents for the powers that be. Look how they did in Wisconsin. They did nothing for their members but made sure they still control the voting processes within their union. They took care of themselves. They are paid liars and were once mafia controlled. Are they any different now?


So the only "solution" is to let both sides know how every single person voted... if the union fails, but you voted for it, you're fired. If the union wins, but you voted against it... expect your work environment to be "hostile" at best.

Yeah, that's a great idea; I'm so glad you've found a way to make this situation worse than the story you told... but why would you want to make things worse?


You talk like a man with a paper asshole. And frankly, on this subject, so does Ray Stern.

The way the system worked prior to the Employee Free Choice Act is that union organizers had to collect cards from a majority of the employees stating that they wanted union representation. If/when the union organizers did so, the employer had the right to demand a separate election through a secret ballot before they are required to negotiate with the union. This separate election takes time to set up, and buys the employer time to fire union sympathizers and buy off employees who may be on the fence.

The separate ballot does NOT do away with the "card check" as you and Mr. Stern appear to think. It is just another way to obstruct workers organizing. Got it? Employees who want union representation STILL have to submit the cards, STILL are identified, and STILL are a target for firing. It's just that under Arizona's law, having gone on the record with a non-secret ballot that clearly shows the majority of workers want a union, the employer can demand a second, secret ballot on the same issue.

The position of most unions and most labor supporters is reflected in the Employee Free Choice Act, and it is correct; If the majority of workers have completed cards stating they want union representation, then the will of the majority has been clearly expressed by that very act. There is no need for a second, "secret" ballot.


Ok, so an "election" where I can have people from the unions come and intimidate and bully the voters is good. An election after that to see if people in private have the exact same opinions I bullied them into is not only bad, but it should be illegal to try to force such a thing?

And I have such a poor misunderstanding of this that you're going to go with "paper asshole"? Fuck you bitch.

I'm sorry that Arizona is letting the workers have a vote where you can't bully and intimidate them... or even find out how each individual one voted for reprisals later... how will you survive without being able to resort to threats, intimidation and violence?

Oh wait, I'm not sorry at all. Take your cries about people being allowed to vote freely without your interference to someone who might care.


So, once again, we have Mr. Stern spreading false information due to his personal bias against unionization. He's committed the same journalistic faux paux when it comes to gun ownership in the past.

If I read something in Valley Fever catorgrized as "news" I expect the writer of that article to at least meet the minimum standards for journalistic integrity - not let his personal bias influence the reporting.

In this case, what Ray Stern did was lie to put his own spin on the article - anti-union. Not reporting that a card check happens anyway and that the Arizona law basically gives the employer another "bite at the apple" is sickening to one who has studied journalism ethics.

Ray, grow a pair and rise to the standards of journalism you aspire to. Stop stooping to yellow journalism.

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