New Effort Under Way In Nevada To Establish Secret Ballot Requirement In Unionization Votes

CARSON CITY – A group seeking to mandate the use of secret ballots in all elections involving union representation has filed an initiative petition to make such a requirement the law in Nevada.

The proposal to amend Nevada state law was filed July 15 with the Secretary of State’s office and lists Steve Wark of Las Vegas as the state chairman of the Save Our Secret Ballot effort.

The group had filed a similar initiative petition proposal in February seeking to amend the state Constitution to implement the secret ballot requirement, but no signatures of registered voters were turned in to qualify the measure by a June deadline.

The latest effort seeks to amend state law rather than the constitution. If the group can gather just over 97,000 signatures by a Nov. 9 deadline, the proposal would go to the 2011 Legislature for its consideration. If the Legislature failed to enact the change within 40 days, it would go to the voters in 2012.

The description of effect for the initiative says it “would recognize the fundamental right to vote by secret ballot in all elections for employee representation. Secret ballot elections will provide employees the right to vote in privacy to determine majority support for a labor union.”

Under current Nevada law, if the responsible governmental administrative agency has a good faith doubt about the majority support of a labor union in a local government workplace, it can order a secret ballot election.

Under federal law governing private-sector employees, if 30 percent or more of the employees request a secret ballot election, then the responsible federal administrative agency must hold one. This initiative would require a secret ballot election in every case.

Even with Nevada approval, the petition notes that a change in federal law would be required for it to be binding in the private-sector workplace.