NLRB to sue anti-union states in federal court

January 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says it will sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah, seeking to invalidate those states’ recently passed constitutional amendments prohibiting workers in the private sector from saying “union, yes” through card-check, reports The New York Times.

Bus industry labor relations are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which is administered by the NLRB.

Labor-friendly congressional lawmakers have been pushing for card-check under federal law — a process that would automatically certify a union when a majority of workers indicate a preference for a union through authorization cards. Currently, card-check is merely an option under federal law, and requires employer acquiescence.

The constitutional amendments of the four states require secret-ballot elections regardless of whether an employer accepts card-check and regardless if a new federal law imposes the card-check result.

“The four amendments differ in language, but all conflict with federal law by closing off a well-established path to union representation recognized by the Supreme Court and protected by the National Labor Relations Act,” said the NLRB in announcing its intention to sue the states.

“The states have no authority dictating which method employees use in deciding whether to be represented by a union,” Samuel Estreicher, a labor law professor at New York University, told The New York Times.