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Speaker Harrell stands up to federal government

The following is an oped placed in statewide papers from Speaker Bobby Harrell:

A new state constitutional amendment – approved by 86% of South Carolinians this past November – that guarantees workers their right to a secret ballot in union organization elections has recently drawn the threat of a lawsuit by the federal government.

Referred to as the “Card Check” amendment, the law’s purpose is to prevent coercion and intimidation – by unions or employers – from influencing labor elections. It also reaffirmed our commitment to remain a Right-to-Work state, and therefore more competitive.

South Carolina, along with Arizona, South Dakota and Utah, all passed similar amendments with wide bipartisan support. Now, all four states are being targeted by the pro-union Obama Administration and have been put on notice that the federal government will sue unless each state overturns the will of the people.

Major labor unions quickly followed the federal government’s lead in seeking courtroom battles to get what they want in our state.

Just days after the federal government issued its threat, two of the largest labor unions in the country filed suit against our state. Although the International Association of Machinists and AFL-CIO sued over a separate issue than Card Check, their suit is another example of how some in our country want to diminish the power of the individual states even further, and put more power into the hands of the federal government.

It was about two years ago that Card Check gained national attention. The Democratically controlled Congress attempted to pass a law taking away a worker’s right to a secret ballot in labor elections. Union organizers could then force workers into using the Card Check process of making employees publicly sign their support or opposition of a union, essentially looking over their shoulder in the voting booth.

By its nature, Card Check opens up any employee not agreeing to sign the union’s support card to harassment and strong-arm tactics by union bosses. This corruptible process is exactly why our democratic elections are done by secret ballot.

It is hypocritical of politicians, elected by secret ballot, to deny American workers that same right. The ensuing backlash and public outrage over this issue proved to be too much even for the large majorities that Democrats held in Washington and the Card Check law was defeated.

While the immediate threat was subdued, many states sought ways to protect workers from future federal overreaching and several states adopted Card Check constitutional amendments. State Representative Eric Bedingfield brought this issue to lawmakers early on and his leadership helped make South Carolina one of the first states to take action.

The recent federal response to our state’s preservation of workers’ rights came as a shock to most lawmakers in the State House. Their impending lawsuit shows just where this federal administration stands when it comes to workers’ rights.

As major supporters of President Obama, labor unions wield a great deal of influence over the current Administration – a fact union bosses openly tout. One union representative, President of the Service Employees International Union Andy Stern boasted, “We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama – $60.7 million to be exact – and we’re proud of it.”

This well-funded, well-organized partnership has created the most expansive federal power grab our country has seen in generations.

Our state and federal constitutions were created to protect the people from the government and to ensure the preservation of liberty. That protection of individual rights was precisely why we sought a state constitutional amendment on Card Check.

Protecting our citizens from an overreaching, out-of-control federal government is also the reason why I am introducing the “Repeal Amendment” this session.

The Repeal Amendment is a way for us to regain our constitutional right to state sovereignty that Congress has eroded over the years. This is a national movement aimed at enacting – by action of Congress or Constitutional Convention – a federal constitutional amendment that will allow states to repeal overreaching federal law that Washington forces upon states.

Under this amendment, if 2/3 of all State Legislatures agreed, unfair federal laws – like Obamacare and unfunded mandates – would be repealed. This would return power back to the states and back to the people in the way our founding fathers intended.

Your state lawmakers are lining up to protect your rights and liberties. Defending our state’s constitution and status as a Right-to-Work state from this federal lawsuit should be the first step that we take. And by enacting the Repeal Amendment, we will slow down and hopefully stop this kind of federal intrusion.