Michigan unions try to use election to tighten grip on state government
A Wisconsin-style union bust will not happen in Michigan if Michigan’s union bosses and their Democrat supporters have anything to say about it.
Out of fear that Michigan’s Republican-dominated legislature might pass laws that limit the power of unions, Michigan’s labor unions are asking voters to support a referendum on the ballot, called Proposal 2, that will solidify union rights as part of the Michigan constitution, including the right to collectively bargain and a prohibition against implementing right to work laws.
“Besides the presidential race, Proposal 2 is probably going to be the most significant thing on the ballot nationally,” F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center, a conservative research center based in Midland, Mich., told The New York Times. “Michigan is surrounded by Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio — states that have taken wildly different views of private and public sector unions. The nation is on a teeter right now on union matters, and Michigan will give momentum to one side or the other depending on how this plays out.”
The unions are flooding the entire state with commercials that claim union rights protect Michigan’s families and safety.
“Lansing officials who have never been on a rescue run and never attacked a fire want to make it illegal for us to bargain for what we need to do the job” says a firefighter in one union-backed ad. “With collective bargaining, politicians can’t make decisions without our say-so. Collective bargaining helps protect firefighters, and that protects all of us.”
Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder opposes Proposal 2 because it will make it much more difficult to fire ineffective teachers and it would remove the state’s ability to negotiate how much government employees should pay for their own health insurance and other benefits.
“It would significantly raise the cost structure of local government,” Snyder told The New York Times. “This would literally wipe out up to 170 laws that are on the books, some dating from the 1960s. The cost of litigation that would come out of this is huge.”
New polling on Proposal 2 shows that the referendum will most likely face defeat on election day. It is currently polling with 55 percent opposition, according to The Detroit Free Press, with support hovering in the high to mid-30s.
A defeat for this referendum will be a huge setback for unions in the Midwest and across the country. A Proposal 2 defeat in Michigan would mean the negative press coverage surrounding the Wisconsin and Ohio union battles earlier this year will have done little to stem the growing amount of distrust Americans have for unions and their beliefs that unions do not have the best interests of the state or state workers in mind.