Union backed ballot measure advertises with illegal mailer lacking political disclaimer.


A mailer in favor of Initiated Measure 23, which hopes to eliminate South Dakota’s Right to Work law by allowing unions to charge non-members for services they claim to render arrived in mailboxes this week.

But from an examination of the mailer which likely went out to thousands of homes across the state, indicates that the mailer in question lacks the political disclaimer that has long been a requirement in South Dakota State Law in some form for decades.

According to South Dakota State Law,

12-27-15.   Printed political communications to contain certain language–Exceptions–Violation as misdemeanor. Any printed material or communication made, purchased, paid for, or authorized by a candidate, political committee, or political party which expressly advocates for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question, or political party shall prominently display or clearly speak the statement: “Paid for by (Name of candidate, political committee, or political party).” This section does not apply to buttons, balloons, pins, pens, matchbooks, clothing, or similar small items upon which the inclusion of the statement would be impracticable. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Read that here.

Upon a close examination of the piece, there’s no evidence that this printed political communication contains anything resembling a political disclaimer, despite the clear requirements of South Dakota election law, making it illegal, and a class 1 misdemeanor under state law.

According to a white paper issued by the opposition, this measure was sponsored by a Union member, but backed by significant labor union resources:

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 based in Minneapolis claims on its website that “one of our members” is responsible for sponsoring the petition. Local 49 represents over 13,000 heavy equipment operators who drive bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, and other big machines in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

This union provided financial support for the “Committee for Fair Compensation” of $158,400 in 2015. It can be safely assumed that the money was used to gather signatures with the unspent balance ready for use during the campaign.

Read it all here.

As you’ll note, the ballot committee who is on the return address also seems to have strong ties to organized labor…


…noting the return e-mail address of “wtham@local49,org.”

I asked the Secretary of State what people should do when people receive illegal, undisclaimed mailers such as this, and her spokesman Jason Williams noted:

They should submit the complaint to the States Attorney for county races/ballot measures or to the Attorney General for statewide and legislative races and ballot questions.

Williams also cited SDCL 12-27-35.   Investigation and prosecution of violations by attorney general–Civil actions, and SDCL 12-27-40.   Investigation and prosecution of violations by state’s attorney–Civil actions.  

So, if you’ve received one of these illegal mailers for a statewide ballot measure, per the SOS, you should direct it to AG Marty Jackley. You can correspond with the AG by writing to:

Office of the Attorney General
500 East Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501 

12 thoughts on “Union backed ballot measure advertises with illegal mailer lacking political disclaimer.”

    1. Unions are not required to represent workers who choose not to join. Consequently, the nonmembers can’t be freeloading. And no, union membership doesn’t raise wages, but it does increase everyone’s costs.

  1. How is it freeloading if somebody who never asked to be represented by the union? What if an employee isn’t pulling his weight and is costing everybody in productivity but can’t be fired because the union fights the employer who is trying to get rid of a crappy employee? I will be voting a resounding NO to the Unions’ attempts to turn our state into a union shop. Give the workers freedom, or is that a crime!

  2. I hope Mr. PP has complained on behalf of all of us who don’t know Mr. Jackley like he does. These unions are nefarious and want to freeload. Why should I pay them for what they do if I disagree with what they do and don’t want them to do it?

  3. I will be voting yes I would rather make thirty an hour under a union instead of 8.55 in South Dakota.Thousand of jobs waitng here,Low paying jobs is what the bill board should say.

    1. Or more likely make $0.00/hour while looking for that $30.00/hour job that never existed. Many of those $8.55/hour jobs will disappear because the employers will just fold up and go away. And if you are making $8.55/hour now, you are either a young person or someone with now job skills. You can make more than that at a fast food restaurant. Do you live in your mother’s basement?

  4. If you want to make $30 an hour, maybe you should get a trade that pays that wage. Even if this passes, wages aren’t going to go up to $30 an hour (unless you are a teacher with their highly paid and loudly vocal lobbyists). I do not believe that a person should have to pay union dues that go to a political party or a union that the person does not support. No one should have the right to dip into my paycheck to make me pay for something I don’t believe in, period. The federal govt already has this handled!

    1. Springer, as a teacher, I can tell you that there are plenty of teaching positions offered in other states close to SD that pay significantly more. I am near the end of my career. I had no intention of leaving. I did not ask for the pay raise, but I am not turning it down, either. Neither would you. I do believe that if this state wants to attract and keep good teachers, they will have to be compensated at a rate that makes it attractive to stay in the state. Private enterprise does that. I remember my wife suddenly getting a significant raise when another company came into town and poached employees. The state needs to be competitive if it wants good teachers.

  5. Perhaps if sanctions went against the offending organization such as a loss of 1% of their vote total for each infraction a complaint might have an effect. However, nobody goes to jail and all just goes on as before. Even in the national election, it has been shown that the Clinton campaign is breaking federal law. No consequences means nobody cares.

  6. The unions have demanded and in most instances received from the employers the right to negotiate for nonunion workers; thus, it is disingenuous to call the nonunion employees free riders. The more accurate term for them are forced riders.

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