In Michigan, union bosses are testing a new strategy to increase their power and clout within the state. A constitutional amendment known locally as Proposal 2, or the “Protect Our Jobs” (POJ) amendment, would invalidate much of the common-sense progress that Governor Rick Snyder has made as it relates to public-sector unions, potentially overturning upwards of 170 pieces of legislation.
Beyond that, the amendment has frighteningly broad language, overturning any state law that might “abridge, impair, or limit” collective-bargaining rights for private and public employees.
The vague language is a necessary function, ensuring that the measure triggers a spate of lawsuits challenging existing labor laws. Even the unions’ attorney agrees, “If POJ passes, its interaction with existing constitutional provisions, laws, and ordinances will be determined by the courts on a case-by-case basis,” he explained in a legal filing.
The Michigan Education Association (MEA) has already drawn up a hit list – the laws that it would like to see overturned if Prop 2 passes. They want to stifle competition in education, overturning a law that allows districts to promote teachers based on merit and a law that allows parents to enroll students in schools outside their district.
And Prop 2 would also give union bosses a way to back-door changes into Michigan’s labor code by overriding state laws when they are in conflict with collective bargaining agreements. Closed door negotiations between labor bosses and employers would take the place of open government.
The unprecedented measure represents “a breathtaking power grab that would turn unions into a super legislature,” as an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal recently surmised.
Those are the sweeping, intended consequences of Proposal 2. But the unintended consequences are even worse.
One of the laws that would be invalidated is the state law that sets minimum safety training standards for school bus drivers. Those common-sense standards would be wiped out, and would now be subject to negotiation school district by school district.
Another state law sets consistent teacher discipline policies that would be invalidated as well. Why does that matter? It was recently reported that one school district had shockingly lax discipline policies. For instance, teachers couldn’t be fired until the fifth time they were found to be teaching under the influence of alcohol and the third time teaching under the influence of drugs. A teacher selling drugs to students would keep their job unless they were caught red-handed twice.
But make no mistake, the ballot initiative comes with a $1.6 billion price tag – transferring cash from taxpayers’ pockets to Big Labor’s coffers. It’s meant to be costly and that’s why the unions are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to pass it. The only jobs that Proposal 2 “protects” are those of union bosses.