The State of Labor Relations

With 26 states now disagreeing that the federal government has the legal authority to tell us what health insurance coverage we must have, it would seem that the modern battle for state’s rights has been joined. Add to that the rising tide of states looking to handle their own immigration issues, after Arizona started the movement with SB 70, and it would seem that the federal government is losing perspective on any interests other than its own.

Now, the National Labor Relations Board has determined that states may not define their own rules for how they work with labor unions.

The National Labor Relations Board has threatened to sue the states of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah over recently passed state constitutional amendments that require secret-ballot elections before a company can be unionized.

The board says the states can’t override federal law that gives workers the option of the so-called card-check method of organizing, which unions favor but many employers oppose.

Both methods of organizing are legal under federal law, the NLRB said in a letter to state attorneys generals on Thursday. The difference is that unlike secret-ballot elections, card check simply requires union organizers to collect a majority of signed petition cards from employees backing unionization.

Still, when the card-check method is used, the employer has the final say in whether it wants to recognize the union. Unions have been pushing for federal legislation that would eliminate the need for the employer’s blessing and allow them to bypass secret-ballot elections in favor of card-check.

The amendments to the four states’ constitutions were approved Nov. 2 by voters in those states. The amendments have already taken effect in South Dakota and Utah and are expected to become effective soon in Arizona and South Carolina. [emphasis added]

Yes. The unions are concerned, as well they should be. Remember the Employee Free Choice Act? That’s the bill that the unions did not get passed which would have permitted them to use card-check without the employers input. Now, not only are they upset that EFCA did not pass, but they are losing ground with states which are saying, in essence, “No, you can’t use a process which is too easily abused when there is another, better, truly free way (secret ballot).”

Here is hoping that the states which are hearing from the NRLB on this matter stick to their guns.