Feds may sue over secret ballot vote

2011-03-18T05:00:00Z Feds may sue over secret ballot voteDavid Montgomery Journal staff Rapid City Journal
March 18, 2011 5:00 am  • 

The federal government may sue South Dakota over the state's recently enacted secret ballot right.

Negotiations broke down this month between the National Labor Relations Board and four states, including South Dakota, that recently passed laws forbidding the use of non-secret union elections.

South Dakota's took the form of a constitutional amendment, Amendment K, approved by 79 percent of voters in the November election.

The NLRB argues that federal law -- the 1935 National Labor Relations Act -- gives workers the right to try to unionize through a public election by signing their names to cards. Employers can either accept the union or call for a secret ballot election.

A proposed federal law, the Employee Free Choice Act, would force employers to recognize a union if more than 50 percent of employees signed a card calling for a union to be formed -- a prospect that Amendment K, which guarantees the right to a secret ballot, was designed to circumvent.

The Employee Free Choice Act was last introduced in Congress in 2009, and, as a Democrat-backed piece of legislation, is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and his counterparts in Arizona, South Carolina and Utah have been negotiating with the NLRB since January, when the NLRB first threatened to sue. Jackley said those negotiations broke down earlier this month when the attorneys general refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

In breaking off negotiations, Jackley also refused the NLRB's request to declare Amendment K unconstitutional.

"They wanted us, as attorneys general, to basically declare our state constitutional amendments unconstitutional and pre-empted by federal law," Jackley said.

Jackley said he believes Amendment K doesn't violate the National Labor Relations Act, though he said the Employee Free Choice Act might pose such a conflict if it were to pass.

"We told them that given the existing federal law, we do not believe that a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the fundamental right to a secret ballot is in violation of a federal law," Jackley said.

A NLRB spokesman said the board is considering its options.

The labor board threatened such a lawsuit in January before entering into negotiations with Jackley and the other attorneys general.

Jackley said he is prepared to defend Amendment K in court if challenged.

Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or david.montgomery@rapidcityjournal.com

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. archiejones
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    archiejones - March 18, 2011 11:58 am
    Also from 620 WTMJ, MADISON - A Dane County Circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday that will block the publishing of Governor Walker's collective bargaining law.

    Judge Maryann Sumi granted the emergency order blocking publication after Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit alleging that a joint legislative committee violated Wisconsin's open meetings law when it hastily scheduled a hearing on Walker's bill.
  2. jonesi
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    jonesi - March 18, 2011 10:17 am
    0bamanation all I can say to your statement is that in a liberal progressive's world the ends justifies the means. No matter what laws they have to break or people they have to destroy. That is why in November 2012 they will get another awakening to how the regular citizens of this Good Old USA feel. Goodbye Obama and your Changing the USA crowd and hello to those that believe every man, woman, and child should be left alone to make the most of their lives that they are capable of. No union thugs to force them in one direction or the other.
  3. 0bamanation
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    0bamanation - March 18, 2011 9:19 am
    Recent events in Wisconsin show exactly what the progressives and unions think of a free election process. 'Spose Holder's "Justice Department" will prosecute this?

    From 620 WTMJ we read about this petition drive to recall a Democratic State Senator.

    The petition rally was originally scheduled at a local Merrill restaurant but was relocated after the proprietors received many phone calls and felt they needed to back out. The committee then set up in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse to offer citizens an opportunity to sign their names to the petition. Over 1,000 calls had been sent out the previous day notifying area residents of the petition rally.

    Upon arrival, members of the recall committee were encircled by union protesters carrying signs and a leader with a mega phone who began chanting and ranting loudly. They packed in tightly around the petition collection table so as to prevent those attempting to sign from doing so. At one point, a pro union protester, pretending to be interested in signing the petition, wrote profanity across a partially collected petition form, than began ripping up the completed petitions that were in close proximity.

    The policemen who were there, and who were standing in close proximity to these events as they unfolded, did nothing to assist those collecting the petitions as they were being destroyed, [emphasis added] despite such an action being a Felony under Wisconsin law. Police also did nothing to clear the walk way for citizens that wanted to sign the petitions. Recall Committee members received many phone calls the following day from Merill area citizens who stated that they showed up to sign the petition, but were too afraid to get out of their vehicles and approach the recall table.

    Doesn't this sound more like Venezuela, than Wisconsin. And that is exactly what is happening; we are, inch by inch, being frog marched down the path of progressive collectivism by the unholy troika of the leftist MSM, the Obama Administration and the public employee unions.

  4. jonesi
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    jonesi - March 18, 2011 9:17 am
    miawmd wrote - "Republicans are intent upon destroying the working middle class. They want to turn this nation into Mexico with only two classes, the rich and the working poor."

    The libs are intent upon turning this nation into Mexico, one illegal at at time. Or more like one million illegals at a time.
    Also miawmd how is giving the people the right to secret ballot destroying the working middle class. Take your time on answering because your last statement was laughable at the least.
  5. miawmd
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    miawmd - March 18, 2011 8:34 am
    Republicans are intent upon destroying the working middle class. They want to turn this nation into Mexico with only two classes, the rich and the working poor.
  6. jonesi
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    jonesi - March 18, 2011 8:30 am
    I'll bet the libs will stay away from this one like it was the plague. They talk about choice but when something benefits the unions they are all for it. The ends justifies the means in their twisted little mixed up world.
  7. 0bamanation
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    0bamanation - March 18, 2011 8:09 am
    Imagine that! The progressive's union buddies against a secret ballot and 0bama's "Justice Department" suing AGAINST having secret ballots not long after the Black Panther voter intimidation case was dropped.
  8. AveJoe
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    AveJoe - March 18, 2011 7:34 am
    2012 can't come soon enough.
  9. jonesi
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    jonesi - March 18, 2011 7:09 am
    Just another step by the Feds to get the states to favor unions. Feds need to stick to providing national security and whatever else they do to spend our money. Stay out or our states business.
  10. AveJoe
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    AveJoe - March 18, 2011 7:08 am
    If the Employee Free Choice Act ever passes, targeted employees will have union goons crawling in bed with them whining they only want a card signed so they can get a vote. Then suddenly, there is no vote and a union the people didn't want gets shoved down their throats. And of course, it will be an old-school union with all of their dirty-30s lying, intimidation and corruption. Believe it or not, the biggest victims of unions are more often than not union employees. I should know. I've got over 30 years of dealing with their garbage.
  11. OneMansOpinion
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    OneMansOpinion - March 18, 2011 6:30 am
    Now who would have thought that? Maybe anyone asked to hear this case when it gets rammed through the system can just "disappear" to another state.
  12. Rush Mountmore
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    Rush Mountmore - March 18, 2011 6:26 am
    When oh when are the Republicans going to complain to the people that we are being run by a dictatorship?
  13. MustBeKidding
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    MustBeKidding - March 18, 2011 5:24 am
    The feds need to spend less time suing states like Arizona and South Dakota and more time getting its own house in order.

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