Arizonans will get to vote in November whether they want a constitutional provision guaranteeing secret ballots in union elections.
On a largely party-line vote, both the House and Senate gave final approval Wednesday to putting the question to voters in November. No action by Gov. Jan Brewer is necessary, though she is on record as supporting the move.
Only two Democrats voted with the Republican majority: Sen. Amanda Aguirre and Rep. Lynn Pancrazi, both from Yuma. Aguirre said she is a business owner and always has believed in secret ballots; Pancrazi left the House before she could be questioned.
The measure, if approved in November, would change nothing in existing law. The National Labor Relations Act already requires workers to vote by secret ballot if they want to organize.
But Democrats in Congress hope to approve "card check'' legislation. That would allow a union to be formed with simply the signatures and consent of at least half the affected workers, with no need for an election.
President Obama backs the plan, even telling the executive committee of the AFL-CIO last week he still wants to push it through. There even has been talk of a post-election "lame duck'' session of Congress to enact the change, especially if Republicans pick up seats in November.
Democratic legislators who spoke out against the plan Wednesday said the three-day special session was a waste of time. Several said it was pure speculation whether Congress will vote to change the law.
But Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the push is on. And he said the Obama administration has a history of doing what it needs to do to get what it wants.
For example, he said, federal lawmakers from Florida agreed to support national health care because provisions were changed to specifically benefit that state. Pearce said they were "bought and bribed.''
"I put nothing past this administration to get their way in buying votes or whatever they have to do,'' he said, adding there is "Chicago-style politics in D.C.''
Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, said it's irrelevant whether voters alter the Arizona Constitution. He said if the federal law is changed to allow unions to be formed without an election, that will supersede any state measure.
Supporters and foes have until 5 p.m. Monday to file statements in support or opposition of what will be Proposition 113 with the Secretary of State's Office. Those statements will appear in a pamphlet explaining all of the ballot measures which will be mailed to the homes of all registered voters.