Arizona Aims to Punish Unions, UFCW Says

     PHOENIX (CN) – A UFCW union local claims the Arizona Legislature is placing an unconstitutional measure on the November ballot that that will force union workers to use government-run elections to authorize union representation. UFCW Local 99 claims the state illegally combined two issues to generate more support for its “anti-union provision.” It points out that SCR 1026 does not affect elections for corporate boards or associations – only for unions.

     The 18,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 claims Senate Concurrent Resolution 1026 violates the Arizona Constitution’s “prohibition on combining more than one subject in a single amendment to the constitution, known as the ‘separate amendment’ rule.”
     SCR 1026 would change state – and federal – law to stop workers from forming a union by “presenting signed authorization cards from a majority of their co-workers,” and force the union to hold a “public election” by secret ballot.
     But the UFCW says public elections are governed by the Arizona Constitution, while unions are governed by the National Labor Relations Act.
     In its complaint in Maricopa County Court, the UFCW says the Legislature is using log-rolling, an “uncontroversial notion (that of continuing use of secret ballots in electing governmental officials) as a means of getting passed a more-controversial and less-popular measure (the labor provision which will cost the state many thousands of dollars in legal defense because so likely preempted by federal labor laws).”
     The UFCW says the two subjects addressed in SCR 1026 are not connected, since “elected governmental officials have the power to tax, to conscript people into the armed services, and to arrest people and put them in jail – a far cry from the power of union officials, whose primary task is to negotiate a tentative labor agreement with an employer and then enforce the agreement ratified by employees, a role from which a union can be readily ousted under existing law, and which under Arizona’s ‘right to work’ laws, workers cannot be compelled to pay anything to support.”
     The UFCW says that any employee can file a charge with the National Labor Relations Board or complain to law enforcement if he or she feels that Local 99 chapter coerced workers into signing union authorization cards, but no such charges have been made against the chapter.
     Local 99 seeks writ of mandamus and an injunction prohibiting the Legislature from putting SCR 1026 on the ballot. It is represented by X. Alex Carpio with Snow and Carpio.

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