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Goldwater Institute Defends Right to Vote by Secret Ballot

October 31, 2014

PHOENIX – The Goldwater Institute is joining the State of Arizona in defending Proposition 113, a state constitutional amendment to protect worker rights, from a challenge by the National Labor Relations Board.

More than 60 percent of Arizona voters in November 2010 approved Prop. 113 to guarantee the right to vote by secret ballot in union organizing elections. The measure was also overwhelmingly approved by voters last year in South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. In May 2011, the NLRB filed a federal lawsuit to stop Arizona from enforcing Prop. 113, and the federal agency has promised to sue South Dakota as well.

The Goldwater Institute will represent 34 individual workers, including construction workers, nurses, and teachers, who do not want to lose their right to vote by secret ballot if a union attempts to organize in their workplaces. On their behalf, the Institute has asked the U.S. District Court in Phoenix to include them as defendants in the NLRB lawsuit that aims to strike down Prop. 113.

“The right to vote by secret ballot in union organizing elections has been protected by federal law for 75 years. Prop. 113 and Save Our Secret Ballot simply enshrine that protection in the state constitutions of any state that passes the law,” said Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director. “With this lawsuit, the NLRB has moved from protecting workers rights to attacking them.”

The Goldwater Institute drafted the original language of Save Our Secret Ballot to protect the right to vote by secret ballot in union elections as a preventive measure in case Congress chose to abandon this protection. In 2006, the Employee Free Choice Act or “card check” bill was introduced. This proposed federal law would remove the right to a secret-ballot election. The bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 while under control of congressional Democrats. President Barack Obama promised to sign the bill into law while he campaigned for the White House in 2008.

While the bill has yet to receive final congressional approval, the NLRB announced in 2010 that it would consider revoking the right to secret-ballot elections as an administrative act.

Meanwhile, public support for protecting secret-ballot votes in union organizing elections is growing. The Indiana General Assembly approved the measure and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it into state law in May 2011. The Tennessee General Assembly sent the measure to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature on June 6, 2011. California voters are being asked to place the measure on that state’s ballot in 2012. The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation has pledged to help defend against federal lawsuits in any state that adopts the measure.

“The right to a secret ballot is one of the most sacred principles of American democracy,” Mr. Bolick said. “But that right is under attack by an out-of-control federal agency that would expose workers to coercion or intimidation when they are trying to decide if they should join a union.”

Read more about this case here. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.



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