Proposal 2 would guarantee collective bargaining, ban right-to-work laws
Editor’s note: This is the second in a six-part series examining November’s ballot proposals.
Labor unions through the state are hoping that Michigan voters approve a ballot proposal that would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.
After crushing defeats for labor over the past couple years in Republican-controlled states like Wisconsin and Indiana, unions countrywide are eagerly awaiting the results of Michigan’s Proposal 2.
Proposal 2 would guarantee workers, both public and private, the right to collective bargaining. Several prominent unions statewide, including the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan AFL-CIO, pushed for the amendment.
“We hope that Michigan can lead what will then be movements around the United States to guarantee workers’ rights to organize and to collective bargaining,” UAW President Bob King said when announcing the original drive for the amendment.
In addition to guaranteeing collective bargaining rights, the proposal would essentially ban right-to-work laws from being enacted.
Simply put, right-to-work laws, like the one passed in Indiana earlier this year, prevent workers from being forced to join a union. Because unions are required under federal law represent all workers under contract, unions oppose the laws because an employee who refuses to join a union and pay his dues can still enjoy the benefits of a union contract.
Twenty-three states have right-to-work laws on the books.
Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette have opposed Proposal 2 from the beginning, arguing in court that the proposal is too complicated and nuanced to be properly explained to voters in the allotted 100 words or less on the ballot.
In a series of YouTube videos released last week, Snyder detailed why he still opposes the amendment.
“I believe in collective bargaining,” Snyder said. “It’s part of the American fabric of our society, and I’ve done it successfully with state employees twice. The issue is that if you look at this proposal, it should really be named the ‘Back in Time’ proposal.”
Snyder said the amendment would roll back crucial reforms made in recent years to cut back on debt.
“All this would do is take us back in time and be a detriment to our economic recovery and the reinvention of Michigan,” Snyder said.
Especially since last year’s heated clash between unions and the Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over pensions, collective bargaining and right-to-work laws have been a hot-button issue in the presidential race.
In a Labor Day speech in front of union members in downtown Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden vigorously defended collective bargaining and unions as the backbone of the middle class.
“Right-to-work means the right to work for less,” Biden said. “As long as we’re here, it will not happen.”
In a February campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would push for federal right-to-work legislation.
“I’ve taken on union bosses before, and I’m happy to take them on again,” Romney said.
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