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Federal judge dismisses challenge to Arizona union election laws

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Wednesday dismissed [opinion, PDF] a complaint by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) [official website] challenging an Arizona state constitutional amendment that guarantees a vote by secret ballot for employee representation. The NLRB, an independent US agency that is charged with conducting elections for labor unions and remedying unfair labor practices, argued that Article 2 § 37 [text] of Arizona's Constitution acts to limit the means by which employees can choose union representation and conflicts with various sections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) [29 USC §§ 151-169]. According to the NLRB, the NLRA provides methods in addition to secret ballot elections for private-sector employees to choose a union but contends that the amendment forecloses these options. The court ruled that, depending on how the amendment was implemented, it may not interfere with federal law. Therefore, it was improper at this time to declare the amendment unconstitutional. However, the court gave the NLRB the option to pursue future action [press release] if the method in which the amendment was implemented did indeed clash with federal law.

Restrictive collective bargaining laws have been advanced in several states within the last couple years. In February Indiana union members sued to block implementation of the state's new right-to-work legislation [JURIST report]. In a public referendum in November, Ohio voters rejected [JURIST report] a bill passed in March 2011 [JURIST report] which would have impacted Ohio's 400,000 public workers by limiting their ability to strike and collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions. Ten Wisconsin unions filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court in June 2011 challenging the state's new collective bargaining law. According to the plaintiffs, the Wisconsin bill discriminates among groups of public employees and eliminates basic union rights, like bargaining, organizing and associating. In July 2011, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Idaho [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] blocking the enforcement of an Idaho anti-union law [SB 1007] that bans a union program that subsidizes employment for its members. The law, called the Fairness in Contracting Act, prohibits union programs used by construction workers unions that pool portions of union wages on a voluntary basis to subsidize union labor to enable union members to be hired at the collectively bargained salary.

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