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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/11/final-arguments-on-proposal-2/
1 November 2012
Proposal 2 would “grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.”
According to a report by the independent, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Proposal 2 is an effort to combat recent actions taken by the governor and Legislature to restrict the bargaining power and costs of public sector workers.
Protecting Working Families, formerly Protect Our Jobs, is the ballot committee in favor of Proposal 2. It is primarily funded by labor interests and has raised more than $21 million, as of Oct. 26.
Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution is a coalition of business groups, such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, opposing a variety of ballot props this year, including Proposal 2. It has raised $7.5 million, as of Oct. 26. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers also opposes Prop 2. It has raised more than $19 million, as of Oct. 26.
Bridge coverage of Proposal 2 — and the other statewide ballot proposals this year — visit our Ballot Mania page. Advocates were asked to make their case on how to vote on Proposal 2:
By Mark Schauer
Many people know me as a former congressman, but my wife and I are also small business owners. Our Battle Creek retail store, My Style Your Style, is one of almost 1,000 businesses across the state that have pledged to support Proposal 2, which protects the right of all working people to collectively bargain over wages benefits and working conditions.
Collective bargaining built the middle-class in our state, and protecting those fundamental rights is essential to maintaining Michigan’s way of life.
Middle-class incomes in Michigan fell between 1979 and 2007, even though the state’s overall economy grew. A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that over the past three decades, Michigan’s middle-class workers did worse than middle-class U.S. workers overall because collective bargaining eroded more in Michigan.
EPI also found that collective bargaining leads to higher wages and benefits for workers whether they are directly covered by collective bargaining or not. That translates into more money circulating to local businesses in our communities.
When the auto industry was on the brink of collapse, workers and employers were able to come together through the collective bargaining process and find necessary cost savings. Now auto companies are adding jobs and bringing work back from overseas − as employees and managers work together to ensure the future of the industry remains bright.
Collective bargaining gives firefighters and police officers a voice to negotiate for life-saving equipment, protects nurses so they can speak up about a patient’s care without fear of being fired, and it allows teachers to fight for smaller class sizes to better educate our children.
Proposal 2 protects collective bargaining, guaranteeing employees the basic right to choose to join a union and prohibiting employers from retaliating against them for doing it. It’s as simple as that.
In spite of the evidence that collective bargaining rights are good for our communities and commerce, Proposal 2’s secretively funded opponents are spending tens of millions of dollars on television ads full of lies intended to create confusion and fear about this amendment.
As a former state legislator who helped write and pass laws to make our children safer, I want to stress the fact that federal law and state criminal law are outside of the scope of collective bargaining and would not be affected by this constitutional amendment. Proposal 2 opponents should be ashamed of their scare tactics suggesting otherwise.
My time in Lansing also made me acutely aware of the pressure that corporate special interests try to exert on lawmakers. Collective bargaining helps level the playing field for employees so that CEOs aren’t the only ones beneﬁtting from a company’s success. Without strong collective bargaining rights, corporate bosses make millions while the people who actually do the work see their wages cut. We must safeguard collective bargaining in the constitution so that they are not subject to political whims or the sway of corporate special interests.
Proposal 2 does not repeal a single law or statute. What it does is make sure that collective bargaining can take place and that broad mandates from the state don’t trump decisions reached locally when workers and management come to an agreement about what is best for their workplace. It does not compel workers or management to accept the specifics of any particular agreement. It just makes sure that both sides are at the table.
Collective bargaining rights offer fundamental protections to working families. Affirm collective bargaining rights by voting yes on Proposal 2.
Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.