Virginia Moves to Make Card-Check Unconstitutional

By Matt Cover | December 13, 2012 | 4:51pm EST

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks during a luncheon at the National Press Club Friday, May 20, 2011 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – Virginia is moving towards making card-check – the controversial union proposal to replace secret-ballot elections with simple card-signing petitions – unconstitutional in the state.

The effort is led by State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) who said that “no citizen” should be denied the ability to vote by secret ballot.

“It’s really a simple bill,” Reeves told in an interview Thursday. “It’s there to improve voter integrity and privacy. I personally believe that no citizen should be forced to reveal how they voted in any election be it federal, state, local, or even a union election.”

The proposed amendment would add a section to Virginia’s Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot election in all cases, even in the case of a union election.

The proposal is intended to block so-called card check legislation that failed to pass Congress two years ago. That bill, which remains a Democratic and union priority, would have allowed unions to organize a workplace simply by getting a majority of workers to sign union cards, avoiding the need for a secret-ballot election where both the union and the business owners can compete for workers’ votes.

Virginia is already a right-to-work state, meaning that workers cannot be forced to join a union if one exists at their workplace. Reeve’s bill would strengthen Virginia’s legal framework by guaranteeing that card-check legislation could never be passed in Virginia.

The amendment must still make its way through Virginia’s rigorous constitutional amendment process. It is expected to pass both the House of Delegates and state Senate and be signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

However, it must be held over for one election cycle, then pass the legislative process a second time before it is placed on the ballot for voters’ approval. The earliest it could be seen on the ballot in Virginia would be the 2014 midterm elections, assuming Republicans win the 2013 state-wide elections next year.

Reeves said that the recent controversy in Michigan – where the state legislature passed right-to-work legislation over the extreme opposition of Democrats and union activists – was an unexpected boon, bringing more attention to his efforts in Virginia.

“Sometimes in this business, time means everything, so I can’t thank the Michigan state legislature enough for helping us bring this to the forefront,” he said. “It’s a critical issue, and I mean President Obama, he owes big labor and all those union bosses he owes because of what helped him get elected so they would like to see card-check come through at the federal level.”

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