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Judge upholds Arizona’s union secret ballot law

A federal judge upheld Arizona’s voter-approved law that allows workers to cast secret ballots to determine whether to unionize.

Judge Frank Martone of U.S. District Court said in an 11-page ruling Tuesday that the National Labor Relations Act does not supersede Arizona’s 2010 Proposition 113. The federal law replaces secret ballot voting with the “card-check” system in which unions can be recognized if a majority of employees in a work force declare a desire in writing to unionize.

Martone said the Arizona law can still be challenged as it is applied in specific circumstances.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who defended the state, said in a press release that Martone’s decision was a “stinging rebuke” to the National Labor Relations Board, which brought the suit in 2011.

“As I said at the time, this intimidation by our own elected leaders must stop, and today’s court decision is a welcome step in that direction,” Horne said in the written statement.

No representative from the labor board was immediately available for comment.   Opponents of the Arizona law argued in 2010 that it was a deceptive attempt to make it more difficult for Arizona workers to unionize.

Clint Bolick, of the Goldwater Institute, who intervened in the case on behalf of Save Our Secret Ballot, the group that pushed the referendum, said it is possible the NLRB will appeal, but a change in administration could change that decision.

“Given that the NLRB was extremely confident that it would win this lawsuit, I think this ruling gives us cause for celebration,” Bolick said.

Bolick said one of the more heartening points made by Martone was that even if the state law conflicts with federal law, the state’s interests may be found to be more compelling than the federal government’s.

Proposition 113 was passed by 60 percent of the voters.

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