Wisconsin Deja Vu: Collective Bargaining on the Ballot in Michigan

Posted: Nov 06, 2012 6:47 PM

We’ve seen Wisconsin and New Jersey – two deep blue states – eschew their traditional heavy support for unions and now, it seems Michigan could follow suit. The Mitten, one of America’s union strongholds, has several proposals on the ballot that will serve as interesting indicators of where unions now stand in the eyes of Michiganders.

There are six proposals on the ballot, five of which propose to amend the state constitution – in other words, they carry a little more weight than an ordinary, repeal-able statute. The Freep [the Detroit Free Press, for those who aren’t local!] has a good roundup of all of them, but one is more consequential than the others. If you’re watching state elections tonight – or if union issues interest you – keep an eye on this measure out of Michigan:

Proposal 2

-Adds the right to collective bargaining to the state constitution

-Bans any future laws that would restrict union membership or collective bargaining

-Supersede state laws pertaining to hours and working conditions that might affect collective bargaining agreements

Michigan’s economy has made significant strides since Gov. Rick Snyder took office and began to roll back the damaging anti-business taxes Jennifer Granholm imposed during her tenure. But this would be a serious step backward; it empowers union bosses, and sticks the taxpayers with a raw deal (after all, remember who public sector unions are unionized against!). Prop 2 also prevents any future right-to-work movements. While that’s a far-off dream in the state the UAW calls home, this would completely quash even the possibility of pursuing such a policy in the future. It’s effectively a reversal of recent progress – and if you want an idea of who stands to benefit from Prop 2, consider its endorsements: AFL-CIO, UAW, MEA, AFT, AFSCME, the Teamsters, and the Michigan Democratic Party.

This is a big one. Gov. Snyder calls it "economically devastating to Michigan." But more broadly, this is a good bellwether for where union interests nationwide stand – if even Michigan rejects collective bargaining expansion, then it’s safe to say union influence has significantly waned.