Patrick Center October 29, 2012 | WGVU While private sector unions like the United Autoworkers or AFL-CIO are regulated under federal law, Proposal 2 would protect Michigan’s public employee’s right to collective bargaining.
“I think it’s really a question of are we in a race to the top economically or a race to the bottom.” Mark Schauer is with Michigan LECET, that’s Michigan Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. He says yes to prop 2 because states that have collective bargaining rights do better.
“Those states have better unemployment rates, less poverty, more people covered with health insurance and pensions. And state’s that provide for collective bargaining have median average salaries or income of $8,000 more a year than state’s that have more restrictive collective bargaining law.” Schauer says this is not to say public employees must join unions.
A concern listed at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s website is that Prop 2 would give labor unions the ability to repeal many of the reforms that have helped Michigan start to turn the corner after a decade of malaise. Elected representatives would be legislatively powerless to stop them.
While Governor Snyder says he’s not opposed to collective bargaining, in a video he explains the initiative could wipe out a number of different labor laws put in place over the last 50 years.
“If you think about the consequence of wiping out statutes that have been around that long and that many it could be devastating. We’re seeing good economic progress in reinventing Michigan. If this proposal is to pass how much litigation would take place? How much things would come to a standstill and how difficult would it be to move forward.”
Would Proposal two unwind state laws and reforms? Schauer says that’s not true. “Attorney General Bill Schuette claimed that to the Michigan Court of Appeals and to the State Supreme Court. He said that 170 laws would be overturned and that Proposal 2 was overly broad. Those claims were rejected by both courts and by the Supreme Court which is a conservative Supreme Court they rejected that unanimously.”
But there are those who say it’s bad for business. Rick Baker is head of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. He says while the state has a very pro-business economy. “From the outside that’s not the perception and I think this just sets us back and drives a nail even harder into that perception.”
Even though Proposition 2 is about state and local employees, Baker says factor it in with the national stigma Michigan is pro-union and it makes it difficult to recruit new businesses.
For Baker, protecting collective bargaining under the state’s constitution is a bad idea? “If they can get this passed they are set. And they can ignore the legislative process and just go directly to the city council and school board tables and have the constitution standing behind them as they negotiate their future.”
For Mark Schauer, Michigan’s constitution should be amended to include collective bargaining right. “We have seen basic rights that are under the jurisdiction of the state legislature to be systematically chipped away. That’s the crux of the problem.”
684,000 residents signed the petition to place Proposition 2 on the ballot. The final vote comes November 6th.