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Federal Court Upholds 'Save Our Secret Ballot'

October 30, 2014

Federal District Court Judge Rules NLRB’s Challenge Invalid

Contact: Michael Kelley, 602-633-8985

Raeleen Kasinec-Grzybowski believes in the right of workers to have secret ballots in union-organizing elections. She is working with the Goldwater Institute to defend the Save Our Secret Ballot initiative from a challenge by the National Labor Relations Board.

Phoenix—In a strong rebuke to the Obama Administration Wednesday, federal district court Judge Frederick J. Martone ruled that the Secret Ballot Amendment, which protects workers’ right to secret ballot in union-organizing elections, is constitutional.

Drafted by the Goldwater Institute in 2009, the Save Our Secret Ballot amendment was added in 2010 to state constitutions in Arizona, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Utah, by voter majorities ranging from 60 to 86 percent.

The constitutional amendment was sought after President Obama and congressional Democrats attempted to end the use of secret ballots in union-organizing elections and force workers into a system called “card check,” which would make it easier for unions to organize and open up the system to abuse by union organizers.

“Today’s ruling is a huge victory for federalism and the authority of states to protect the rights of their citizens,” declared Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation. “In the backdrop of continued power grabs by federal agencies like the NLRB, this ruling affirms that vital protections such as the right to secret ballot can remain in place.”

The National Labor Relations Board filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 charging that the measure intrudes on its powers and is preempted by federal law. The Goldwater Institute intervened to defend the provision on behalf of two dozen workers who want to protect their right to secret ballot.

The Court ruled that the provision does not on its face conflict with federal law. Noting that the law has yet to be invoked, Judge Martone added, “We must still balance the harm to the regulatory scheme with the importance” of the state’s interest “in the protection of its citizens.”

“In today’s ruling, the Court has reined in the NLRB’s aggressive actions promoting unions and opposing the rule of law,” said Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen. “This decision affirms the Goldwater Institute’s strategy of harnessing the power of state constitutions against federal overreach.”

It is unknown whether the NLRB will appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but today’s ruling allows the law to stand.

To read more about the Goldwater Institute’s efforts to protect the fundamental right to secret ballot, click here.




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