Technicians at a Fox Television Stations, Inc. facility in Las Vegas will get another chance to vote on whether they will remove National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET-CWA) union officials from their workplace.

The rerun election follows a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agent’s gross mishandling of the first mail-in ballot count. The employee who submitted a worker-backed petition for a vote to remove the union, Victor Morales, received free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in challenging the tainted vote count.

Under NLRB policies, workers have the right to vote unwanted union officials out of their workplace, but first must submit a petition demonstrating that at least 30 percent of the workplace desires such a vote. If enough workers are interested, the NLRB will conduct a “decertification election” after which union officials will lose their status as monopoly bargaining agent in the workplace.

Voting in person by secret ballot has been the default way the NLRB conducts all elections, including decertification votes, and has long been recognized as the most secure election method. However, the vote in Morales’ workplace occurred via mail, a method in which balloting is completely unsupervised by the NLRB and each ballot must be returned in an envelope bearing the employee’s name and address.

According to a brief filed by Morales with free Foundation legal aid, an agent of NLRB Region 28 in Phoenix exposed the choices of every voter in Morales’ workplace, an occurrence that would not be possible in a secret-ballot in-person vote. Morales’ brief noted that, as he and other parties observed the vote count via Zoom, the agent read the choice on each ballot immediately after removing it from both its blue interior security envelope and its exterior yellow mailing envelope containing each voter’s name. In doing so, the agent “destroyed ballot secrecy and revealed how every employee voted.” Morales’ brief demanded a rerun election.

NLRB Region 19 in Seattle, which investigated the miscount by NLRB Region 28, agreed that the integrity of the vote had been wholly compromised. Its report noted that the “Board has a longstanding policy of voiding ballots which reveal the identity of the voter.” The report recommended a rerun vote because there is “sufficient evidence to establish that the Board agent did not safeguard the secrecy of the votes cast which raises a reasonable doubt as to the fairness and validity of the election.”

The go-ahead for a new election in Morales’ workplace comes as Foundation staff attorneys are aiding a Los Angeles transportation worker, Nelson Medina, in preventing the NLRB from tossing out his objections to a mail ballot election in his workplace pushed by Teamsters Local 848 union officials. Medina asserts that several of his fellow employees’ ballots weren’t counted due purely to errors by NLRB agents or the US Post Office, and that union lawyers had access to tracking numbers for ballots that were originally considered late, indicating unlawful mail ballot harvesting by union officials.

These two cases are just the latest examples of the inferiority of mail and electronic ballots, both of which are preferred by union organizers who can game the system to the detriment of workers who wish to keep their vote private.

Because balloting in such union-preferred election methods is conducted outside the supervision of the NLRB, union agents can and do employ pressure tactics while the vote is ongoing. Unions often send multiple organizers to make unsolicited visits to workers at their homes shortly after they receive their ballots. The organizers at times actually handle ballots and/or watch how individual workers cast their vote.

These coercive tactics are already employed in “card check” union organizing campaigns, a method which allows union officials to bypass a secret-ballot election entirely and install themselves in a workplace merely by sending agents to collect union authorization cards from workers, also while unmonitored by the NLRB.

The latest NLRB missteps in non-in-person unionization votes have occurred as top Organized Labor officials and their allies in Congress push for the NLRB to promote electronic ballot elections, which would allow union officials to deploy “card check” pressure tactics in the same way as they do with mail ballot votes.

In a recent appropriations bill (H.R. 4502), the House of Representatives recently included a rider requiring the NLRB to create an electronic voting system.

The so-called “PRO-Act,” a bill designed to increase union boss power over workers opposed to union representation, also contains a provision requiring the NLRB to implement an electronic voting system for representation elections, with voting taking place by either internet or telephone.

“Mr. Morales and his coworkers deserve a secure, in-person, election so they can freely choose who will speak for them in the workplace. Foundation staff attorneys will keep fighting for them until they get it,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials favor any voting method that takes away the private, secret-ballot process that allows workers to vote yes or no in unionization elections. Under these voting schemes, union organizers can confront and pressure workers until enough have been intimidated into supporting unionization.”

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