Labor board to sue states over antiunion laws

Arizona, South Dakota seek to preempt Free Choice

IF THE EMPLOYEE Free Choice Act ever became law, workers could form a union simply and quickly. All they would need is a majority of the proposed bargaining unit to sign cards. Or they could choose to opt for a secret ballot election. However, the governments of four states, all led by Republican governors with Republican-dominated legislatures, have recently passed constitutional amendments to deny workers the first option, should Free Choice ever become the law of the land.

The National Labor Relations Board has cried foul and has announced it will sue Arizona and South Dakota seeking to invalidate the states’ constitutional amendments. The NLRB also reserved the right to sue the two other states with such laws, South Carolina and Utah.

The NLRB says the state amendments conflict with current federal law which allows an employer to grant voluntary recognition of a collective bargaining agent after a majority of employees have signed authorization cards. The new state laws would deny employers that option and instead require secret ballot elections. The labor board further contends that the four states are in violation of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution that says when state and federal laws conflict, federal laws prevail.

Current laws regarding union organizing allow employers opportunities to delay elections, target employees who are active in organizing, and use other means to coerce employees into rejecting the union.