The National Labor Relations Board has threatened to sue four states, charging that newly-approved state constitutional amendments governing how employees choose union representation are illegal.
In Jan. 13 letters, the NLRB advised the attorneys general of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah that their states' voter-approved amendments conflict with federal labor law and are preempted by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
According to the NLRB, under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, private-sector employees have two ways to choose a union: “They may vote in a secret-ballot election conducted by the NLRB, or they may persuade an employer to voluntarily recognize a union after showing majority support by signed authorization cards or other means.”
The amendments at issue all prohibit the second method, and “therefore interfere with the exercise of a well-established federally-protected right.”
NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, assistant general counsel Eric Moskowitz, deputy assistant general counsel Abby Propis Simms and attorney Mark Eskenazi wrote that they have been “authorized to bring a civil action in federal court” challenging the amendments, which they say impair "important federal rights of employees, employers, and unions.”
If the states "agree with our legal position," the NLRB invited the AGs to sign off on a “judicially sanctioned stipulation concerning the unconstitutionality of the Amendment, so as to conserve state and federal resources.”
But the clock is ticking. The NLRB said if the states don’t respond within two weeks, the board will initiate the suits.