• Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced legislation, H.R. 2118, that would restrict the NLRB’s ability to sue states, putting the decision to sue a state over secret ballot amendments in the hands of the U.S. Attorney General. H.R. 2118 comes on the heels of the NLRB’s suit challenging a recent Arizona law that requires all union elections to be conducted by secret ballot. The NLRB alleges that Arizona’s law violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. If signed into law, H.R. 2118 would require the decision to challenge a state law to be made by the Attorney General, not the NLRB.
  • Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed a bill into law that eliminates collective bargaining for public school teachers. The bill, H.B. 130, replaces the state’s Education Professional Negotiations Act of 1978 with language that provides for “collaborative conferencing.” Under the changes, local school boards may meet with teachers’ representatives (groups that receive 15 percent or more of votes in a confidential poll) in an attempt to reach agreement over issues such as pay, benefits, working conditions, leave, and grievance procedures. Under the new law, school boards are not required to accept any terms or provisions sought by teacher representatives. Moreover, any agreement that is reached is limited to a maximum of three years and will not be presented to professional employees or their organizations for approval.
  • Governor Bill Haslam (R) also signed Public Act number 2011-502 into law which requires union representation elections in Tennessee to be conducted by secret ballot, effective July 1. Similar measures have been approved by votes in South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. In light of the NLRB’s legal challenge to such measures, the Tennessee legislator removed language from the original bill that purported to declare activities by labor organizations aimed at inducing employers to enter into agreements—including strikes, picketing, and boycotts—to be an “unfair labor practice” subject to misdemeanor penalties. The final bill also removes language that would have made employer negotiations or recognition of labor organizations not selected by a majority of employees through secret ballot elections subject to those misdemeanor charges.
  • Six Republican House members introduced new legislation known as the Truth in Employment Act (H.R. 2153) which seeks to amend the NLRA to eliminate protection for employees and job applicants who seek or obtain employment as part of a campaign to “salt” an employer’s workforce with professional union organizers or other individuals who are really applying for jobs “in furtherance of other employment or agency status.” The bill is identical to bills that Republicans offered in June 2009, which died in House and Senate Committees. This new bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
  • Representative Kristi Noem, R-N.D,. proposed the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, H.R. 2335, that would exclude from NLRA coverage and eliminate NLRB jurisdiction over “any enterprise or institution owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on its Indian lands.” This bill seeks to reverse a 2004 NLRB ruling, in San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, which held that NLRB jurisdiction under the NLRA generally extends to all Indian tribal enterprises. The Board has subsequently relied on its decision in San Manuel to assert jurisdiction over a number of casinos and gaming operations.
  • California Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed S.B. 104 that would have allowed agricultural workers the option of using a card check election instead of secret ballots to choose union representation. The bill was supported by the United Farm Workers which indicated that it plans to gather workers at the state Capitol to protest Governor Brown’s veto. The bill was strongly opposed by agricultural employers and business groups. Governor Brown said that before restructuring the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (which he signed into law 1975 during his first term as governor), “it is only right that the legislature consider legal provisions that more faithfully track its original framework.”