Secret ballots

At this time last year, Nevada labor leaders were basking in the Democratic Party’s election sweep and the likelihood that their hill to die for, legislation to ban secret ballots in favor of “card check” unionization, would soon become federal law.

How quickly political fortunes can change. Today, not only is the hideously misnamed Employee Free Choice Act on life support in Congress, but a proposed initiative that could appear on the 2010 state ballot would guarantee secret votes in union organization elections.

Paperwork was filed this week with the secretary of state’s office to circulate petitions that match those put forward in other states by the group Save Our Secret Ballot. The initiative is intended to head off any revival of the card check legislation, which would essentially end secret ballot elections in union organization drives.

Secret ballots, of course, shield voters from coercion and retaliation. That’s why the Save Our Secret Ballot initiative is worthy of the public’s support. Caesars Palace and Wynn Las Vegas dealers had no trouble unionizing with secret-ballot elections in recent years, after all.

If the initiative’s backers are able to collect the 97,002 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the 2010 ballot, it would be a heavy favorite to pass next year and again in 2012. And the unions know it.

That’s why they’ll be pulling out all the stops over the next six months to make sure the amendment never makes it on the statewide ballot in the first place. They’ll deploy “community organizers” to harass and chase off circulators. They’ll dispatch an army of attorneys to challenge every word and every signature.

Watch for this thing to be in court more often than Lindsay Lohan.

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