The General Assembly has passed a measure to protect secret balloting for workers in elections for union representation. The House and Senate moved the bill through this week and it will be on the statewide ballot in the next general election.
Pickens Senator Larry Martin says if this measure becomes a constitutional amendment it will send a strong economic development message. “The movement at the federal level to adopt the Employee Free Choice legislation–though it appears to have diminished somewhat since we started this effort last year–that bill is still pending and we felt like we need to move forward and send the strongest message possible that this is the way we want union elections conducted in South Carolina,” Martin says.
The bill was filibustered for days by Orangeburg Senator Brad Hutto, who says the state cannot supercede federal labor laws. Senator Martin took Hutto to task often during his filibuster.
(Listen to debate between Hutto and Martin MP3 :54)
Listen to debate between Hutto and Martin MP3 :54
Hutto argued that South Carolina could get into legal hot water if this passes and contradicts federal union laws. Martin says he is not worried: “The two-thirds vote requirement in the House and Senate is not the end of it. You’ve got the ballot requirement in November and then you have the ratification requirement in the next session by the next legislature before it actually becomes a part of the constitution. I don’t believe the federal court is going to step in and attempt to circumvent the process.”
The Senate voted 33-9 Wednesday to pass a joint resolution to put the question to the taxpayer. The House approved in an overwhelming 106-12 vote.