Let’s make no mistake about this. Proposition 2 is the most important of the propositions on the ballot. This one is so important that, its opposition is not just campaigning against it directly, the are running an ad that entreats voters to just vote no on all of the “constitutional change” proposals.
Karen Bouffard, in a Detroit News article “Proposal 2 campaigns confusing, polarizing For Michigan voters,” writes:
“Supporters claim unions are under attack and workers will lose their hard-won rights, pay and benefits if the proposal doesn’t win. Republican leaders have passed roughly 30 laws opposed by unions since the GOP swept the state House, Senate and Governor’s Office in 2010.
Opponents say the amendment would eradicate a half-century of labor laws, including those that protect workers and keep pedophile teachers out of classrooms.”
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120924/POLITICS01/209240339#ixzz27cMLDFr8
Ms. Bouffard does a great job of breaking down both sides of the argument, for and against. I’d encourage everybody to take a few moments and read her article.
But despite the pro’s and con’s this “one” fact is clear.
This proposition is about the future of Michigan. “PROTECT OUR JOBS” IS ABOUT PROTECTING OUR FUTURE!
This is what the proposal will look like on the ballot:
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
REGARDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
This proposal would:
- Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
- Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
- Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
- Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.
Should this proposal be approved?
Let’s go over this proposal point-by-point.
Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
It’s being argued that public and private employees have that right. To the extent that many workers are benefiting from union protections, that may seem to be true. But, these protections are not guaranteed. These protections are under attack on many levels. Laws like the Emergency Manager Law, have stripped powers, voided contracts, and reduced or eliminated the rights of employees in both the public and private sectors. The opponents of this proposal have used calls for the “right to work” to rally their supporters, but I wonder if those supporters “really” know what right to work means.
This is posted on the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy site:
What “Right to Work” Would Mean for Michigan
Roland Zullo, Research Scientist
Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations
University of Michigan
There is an effort afoot to make Michigan a “right to work” state. Unfortunately,
most citizens are unaware of what “right to work” means or the implications if such a law
is passed. Our purpose here is to explain the law, map the arguments for and against, and
describe potential effects for Michigan should such a proposal become law.
To begin, the term “right to work” (hereafter RTW) is a misnomer. RTW has
nothing to do with the right of a person to seek and accept gainful employment. Rather,
RTW laws prohibit a labor union and employer from negotiating union security clauses.
What are union security clauses? Union security clauses are contract provisions that
regulate the collection of union dues. In non-RTW states, such as Michigan, the parties
are free to negotiate a range of union security options. Unions typically prefer “union
shop” terms that require every person benefiting from union representation to pay union
dues. In RTW states, the parties are barred from negotiating union security clauses,
making the default the “open shop,” where the payment of dues is optional for workers
represented by the union. Between these two policy poles are arrangements that require
represented persons to pay a proportion of full dues, and even to allow objectors to
unionization to contribute dues to charity. Such arrangements are, however, also
proscribed under the RTW proposal before Michigan.
Labor unions are nearly universal in their opposition to RTW laws, and their
argument is straightforward: each person that benefits directly from union representation
should pay their fair share of the cost of that representation. In the very least, represented
persons should pay a dues amount to cover the expense of negotiating and administering
the labor agreement (what are referred to as collective bargaining activities). For unions,
this is just since, by law, they are required to represent all persons within a bargaining
unit. It is critical to appreciate that although unions have some input into the composition
of the bargaining unit, they cannot exclude persons that simply do not want unionization.
You can find this entire post at: http://irlee.umich.edu/Publications/Docs/RightToWorkInMichigan.pdf
Simply put, right to work is really the right to work for less. Less wages, because collective bargaining brings about a fair wage for employees. Less stability, because collective bargaining establishes workplace rules for safety and maintaining the work force. Less benefits, employer paid healthcare, vacations, sick pay and pensions. All of these things were brought about through the efforts of collective bargaining and right to work could diminish or eliminate them.
Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
Michigan lawmakers have passed a law that prohibits school districts from deducting union dues. They’ve passed another law designed to prevent graduate student research assistants from unionizing. Last year, another tough new bill gave appointed emergency managers the right to dissolve or change collective-bargaining contracts as they see fit. GOP legislators are talking about trying to make Michigan a “right to work” state that would ban the union shop.
Let’s be clear, a constitutional right to collective bargaining is not constitutionally mandating unions. This Act would allow employees the constitutional right to choose. This is about freedom from intimidation and censure from employers that would impose on that right.
Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
As I understand this part of the proposal, it would allow the employees to restore previously negotiated conditions of employment, and prevent the state from unilaterally imposing changes, without union consideration or negotiation.
Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.
This is self-explanatory.
The opponents of Proposition 2 are running advertisements claiming that the proposal will “eliminate safety rules for school bus drivers,” or could stop schools from getting rid of criminals.” That the proposal is “dangerous for kids and terrifying for parents.” That is just plain nonsense. Unions are made up of people, mom and dads, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers. These people have sons and daughters who use the services that the unions seek to protect. Why would anyone imply that the safety of their sons and daughters would not be of tantamount importance to them. Making such a ludicrous statement is not only careless but it’s insulting as well. Insulting to union workers and to the people that they believe, will believe, what they say. They’ve threatened that if passed Proposition 2 will lead to teacher strikes like the recent one in Chicago, but that is, also, not true. Notwithstanding the fact that people do not strike just for the hell of it, it is also illegal for government employees in Michigan to strike. These are plain and simple scare tactics, designed to pull at the heartstrings of regular everyday people, and to manipulate them to vote a particular way. These tactics should not and will not work .
What this proposal does is return the citizens of Michigan to the conditions that allowed us to become the premier industrial/manufacturing state in the region, perhaps in the United States of America. Organized Labor has been and will continue to be the driving force in making those conditions possible.
There is a very good article written by Jack Lessenberry in the Toledo Blade that speaks about the need for this proposal. This article shows that this is important not just for Michigan, but the entire region. Here is a link to the article: http://www.toledoblade.com/JackLessenberry/2012/03/09/Michigan-unions-mobilize-to-protect-bargaining-rights.html
I would also recommend, that for more information, interested citizens should contact the various local Union headquarters in the area. They can answer any questions you may have regarding the need for collective bargaining.