Wednesday, December 31, 2008

State Secret Ballot Laws

Ballot As a sign that the political machinations surrounding EFCA has reached a fever pitch, we now have news of a recent initiative to place a secret ballot amendment in various state constitutions.  And yes, I'm thinking what you're thinking--could you possibly have a clearer case of NLRA preemption?  From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

A new business-backed coalition is targeting at least five states in an attempt to require all union elections be conducted by secret ballot. The group, called Save Our Secret Ballot, is proposing a 47-word amendment to state constitutions that reads, in part, "the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed." The coalition argues that such secrecy is necessary to protect against union intimidation.

The group plans initiative efforts in Arizona, Arkansas and Missouri and will work through legislatures to refer similar measures to the ballot in Nevada and Utah. The initiative was being launched Tuesday [in Georgia]. Additional states could be added to the campaign in coming weeks, said Tim Mooney, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based political consultant who is one of the directors of Save Our Secret Ballot. . . .

Mooney declined to identify specific financial contributors to Save our Secret Ballots, saying generally that the group was backed by small businesses and entrepreneurs. Its advisory board includes members from the conservative Heritage Foundation, Goldwater Institute and Americans for Tax Reform.

To the extent that this initiative is targeting union elections, it is without a doubt more of a PR move than anything else.  Although it could have teeth under state labor laws (to the extent they exist), it is a waste of ink in the private sector.  The NLRB's jurisdiction over representational issues in the private sector is given more deference than anything else the Board does, and NLRA preemption clearly applies.  But the initiative is obviously more about the political battle over EFCA, and I have little doubt that it will not be the last of its kind.

Hat Tip:  Barry Hirsch & Dennis Walsh

-JH

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» State Constitutional Secret Ballot Provisions from Adjunct Law Prof Blog
Professor Jeff Hirsh over at Workplace Prof Blog has a very interesting posting about some proposed state secret ballot constitutional provisions. He cites to a December 30, 2008 A.P. article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which is about a busin... [Read More]

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