02.09.2011 0

Can States Protect the Secret Ballot for Non-Union Workers?

By Rick Manning

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is threatening to sue the states of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah because their citizens took the outrageous step of adding a protection to their state constitutions so their workers are assured the right to a secret ballot union organizing election.

The audacity of these voters has raised the hackles of union organizers who last year failed to achieve their legislative Holy Grail of taking union elections out of the ballot box and into the hands of union bosses who could use an efficient, intimidating card-check system to coerce employees into unionizing.

Now, the Obama-appointee laden NLRB is seeking to do through regulation what Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi failed to do legislatively: pave the way for unionization through elections rules changes.

But the states of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah are standing in the way, as their voters are assured of an intimidation-free voting environment, something that Big Labor just can’t abide.

The ultimate irony is that the NLRB would effectively be using taxpayer money to file these lawsuits behalf of Big Labor, which has plenty of money for campaign cash, but apparently little for litigating against state constitutional amendments which they feel are violations of the federal law.

This puts the taxpayers of these states in the unique situation of potentially paying attorneys on both sides of the same lawsuit.

Not being an attorney, I cannot say with certainty that the state constitutional amendments will stand up in court. I can say with certainty that the federal government should not be the one doing the suing.

If the local carpenters’ union wants to sue the state of Arizona to allow them the ability to organize employees without a secret ballot, that is within their right to do so. However, not a dime of taxpayer money should be spent as an advocate in the case.

This is where Congress needs to step up to the plate and rein in the NLRB by using the power of the purse to stop them from entering into this type of suit using taxpayer dollars, and Congress has the perfect opportunity to stop this misuse of taxpayer money in the next few weeks.

Congress must pass and the President must sign legislation by March 4th funding the government for the next six months or else the government will shut down. This is the best possible opportunity for Congress to stop NLRB abuse, by simply directing that the NLRB shall not spend any money suing states who are protecting their citizens’ right to secret ballot elections.

With fifty keystrokes on the computer, House Republicans can end the NLRB lawsuit threat, and force Big Labor to pay its own legal bills.

The question is whether the House Republicans have the foresight and guts to take this simple, preventive measure, or will they send a message to the NLRB and the rest of the alphabet soup agencies within the federal government that they are going to punt on directing policy.

The next three weeks will set the stage for the rest of the next two years, so let’s hope the Republicans don’t raise the white flag, before a single press release is issued.

Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government and the former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor.

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