It's time to turn our attention to the four proposed state constitutional amendments on the Utah ballot in 2010. The first one to be examined is Amendment A. Information on Amendment B, Amendment C, and Amendment D available at the highlighted links. Other election information available HERE.
When all is said and done, the real purpose of Amendment A is to attempt to stop the implementation of the infamous "card check" procedure which would be permitted if the Employee Free Choice Act was passed by Congress. Under card check, your desire to join a union would not necessarily be expressed by secret ballot without fear of retaliation; employees would also be allowed to manifest by signing a union authorization card. There's no guarantee of privacy; friends, co-workers and union bosses would know exactly who has signed, and could use pressure and intimidation to coerce hold-outs.
Specific Ballot Language: "Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to specify that elections currently required to be by secret ballot include elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum, or to designate or authorize employee or individual representation?"
Analysis: The Utah Constitution currently requires all elections to be by secret ballot. However, because the scope of the requirement that "all elections" be by secret ballot is not defined in case law, it is unclear exactly which elections are included within the scope of the requirement. Amendment A modifies the scope of the secret ballot requirement. Unless preempted by federal law, the Amendment requires specific types of elections to be by secret ballot.
Summary of Arguments FOR Amendment A: Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) and Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) are the primary proponents. You can read the complete argument HERE. The highlights are provided below:
Although the Utah Constitution requires all election to be held by secret ballot, it's unclear exactly which elections are included within the scope of the requirement. This means a unionization election might not be considered to require a secret ballot.
The secret ballot is currently under attack right here in America. President Barrack Obama and big labor union bosses are on the verge of passing legislation called the “Employee Free Choice Act,” also known as “card check: If they succeed, card check will deny employees the right to cast a secret ballot in union organizing elections. No questions. No debate. No secret ballot. You're unionized.
The right to vote in private, free from coercion or intimidation, is one of the pillars of our nation and transcends partisanship. This amendment to the Utah Constitution is simple and straight forward. It simply says that all elections, including elections for employee representation, shall be by secret ballot. By locking this right of secret ballots into the Utah Constitution, Utah will have taken strong and decisive action to guarantee that your right to a secret ballot shall not be infringed. Utah voters cast their votes free from fear of retribution from their government. Utah voters also deserve the same explicit right to be free of fear of retaliation from their union, their employer and their fellow employees.
Conservative blogger Holly Richardson supports Amendment A, and notes that on October 20th, the Utah Taxpayer’s Association will announce which candidates have signed their pledge – and which have not. Update: This has now happened -- you can read the list of supporters HERE.
Summary of Arguments AGAINST Amendment A: Senator Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake) and Rep. David Litvack are the primary opponents. You can read the complete argument HERE. The highlights are provided below:
The amendment is considered redundant; the language in the Utah State Constitution which states “All elections shall be by secret ballot” is considered sufficiently unambiguous. Amendment A is nothing more than a “message” bill, imported to Utah from out of state. Amendment A is a misguided and cynical attempt to nullify a legislative proposal pending in Congress that seeks to modernize and reform one aspect of our labor laws. Amendment A’s proponents will suggest that the Employee Free Choice Act will do away with elections by secret ballot, but this is nonsense. In reality, Amendment A’s proponents know that federal law will likely supersede this proposed amendment but they are more interested in using our Constitution to provoke a costly lawsuit than in maintaining the sanctity and integrity of the Utah Constitution.
Another flaw is that the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) did not approve the amendment and Amendment A was rushed through the Utah Legislature without proper debate and deliberation. The CRC is the bipartisan body composed of citizens and legislators that is tasked with the responsibility of carefully studying and reviewing proposed constitutional amendments to ensure they are necessary and sound.
But what opponents of Amendment A don't consider is that "card check" is much easier to suborn and abuse than a secret ballot. Where are the checks and balances that would govern card check in the same fashion as a secret ballot? Furthermore, the threat of a lawsuit is virtually nil, as a state law cannot supersede a federal law. The impartial analysis of the Amendment clearly states "Unless preempted by federal law, the Amendment requires specific types of elections to be by secret ballot". So the crafters of the Amendment clearly acknowledge the supremacy of federal law over conflicting state law in advance.
Utah Mom's Care has also come out against Amendment A primarily because she deems it redundant. She believes the Constitution is a document which should cover with a broad stroke, and not spell out specifics.
Amendment A might be considered redundant and unnecessary during normal times, but these aren't normal times. We are governed by a President who politically grew up working with fascist groups like ACORN who believe mob rule and intimidation is just another form of democracy. Obama further fueled the perception when he allowed the Justice Department to drop the case against the New Black Panthers who were intimidating voters in Philadelphia. Passage of Amendment A will send a message alright -- a message that we oppose strong-arming and mob rule in unionization elections.