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Pennington County voters can vote early at the county administration building.
Pennington County voters can vote early at the county administration building.
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October 23, 2016

Two Ballot Measures Affect the Workforce

Among the ten ballot measures South Dakotans will vote on, Referred Law 20 and Initiated Measure 23 are both focused on aspects of the workforce. The Rapid City Journal, in a continuing series, examines both measures and what they mean. Referred Law 20 has its start in 2014, when South Dakota voters approved raising the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50. The 2015 South Dakota Legislature passed a law setting a youth minimum wage of $7.50, for those under age 18. Opponents of the measure argue that paying teen workers at the same rate as adults would increase teen unemployment as employers would be more likely to hire adults. Proponents believe the legislature went against the decision the voters made when they passed the increase.

Initiated Measure 23 allows for groups to charge for services provided. This law would largely affect labor unions. South Dakota is a right-to-work state, where union membership cannot be a requirement of employment. However, unions can be forced to represent employees in collective bargaining and grievances, creating a free-rider effect where employees benefit from the union without paying dues. The Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) that unions could collect a fee from workers for the work the union did. Opponents feel this measure goes against right-to-work provisions in the state's constitution, while proponents think the free-rider loophole should be closed.

All ten measures are explained in greater detail in the 2016 Ballot Questions Pamphlet from the South Dakota Secretary of State. Election information is available in the Voter Resource Guide.

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