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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/11/final-arguments-on-proposal-2/

Guest commentary

Final arguments on Proposal 2

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:

No: Safety
comes with
Prop 2’s defeat  

By Kathy Hayes and William Mayes

When we think back to our time in elementary school we quickly recall our friends, our teachers and principals and maybe even a life-changing experience or two. Of course, we also recall many of the lessons we learned, from our ABCs to those pesky multiplication tables and the importance of doing our homework before completing a project or taking a big test.

Kathy Hayes is executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards.

While most Michigan voters completed school some time ago, we still face a big test this Nov. 6 when we head to the polls to elect individuals to represent us in Lansing and Washington, D.C., and to have our say on a half dozen different ballot proposals. While we tend to pay more attention to presidential politics, these ballot proposals can be every bit as important in determining the direction of our state.

That’s why nearly 3,000 local Michigan school boards, principals and superintendents have come together to stand up for our kids, stand up for our local schools and to urge parents to vote “no” on Proposal 2.

Proposal 2 would have devastating negative effects on Michigan schools, making it more important than ever to do our homework before the test. While our “grades” might not depend on getting the answer right or on defeating Proposal 2, our kids’ futures certainly do.

You’ve probably seen the ads for Proposal 2, which talk about collective bargaining and protecting government employee jobs. But what these ads don’t tell you is just how sweeping, overreaching and dangerous Proposal 2

William Mayes is executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

is for Michigan’s public schools.

Because of the confusing way the proposal is worded, it could literally reach in and overturn hundreds of laws on the books that strengthen our public schools, give our students the best public school teachers and save our local districts hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Let’s be clear — nowhere will Proposal 2’s negative impact be felt more severely than in our public schools.

According to the opinion of many legal experts and policy analysts, if Proposal 2 is approved, it will likely repeal laws that help your local public school keep good teachers in the classroom and overturn desperately needed and common sense health care reforms for public employees. According to the teachers union itself, Proposal 2 would also erase the law that fines teachers for striking illegally, the only law on the books deterring Michigan from sliding back into the days of teacher strikes.

Educators, just like parents, want our students to receive the best education from the best teachers, but Proposal 2 would eliminate teacher evaluation systems and force us back into a seniority system that makes time on the job more important than performance with our students. It would also negate the law that allows public schools to determine which teachers teach which subjects.

Proposal 2 would cost school districts $400 million in potential health care savings alone. Should it pass, districts will be forced to eliminate educational programs and cut staff just to balance the books. That is the last thing parents want and the last thing our children need.

So do your homework. Stand up for our Michigan schools and stand up for Michigan kids by voting “no” on Proposal 2. If we don’t get this answer right we won’t simply be failing a test — we will be failing our children.

Yes: Let’s protect
collective
bargaining

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. 

 

Mark Schauer is a former Michigan congressman and state legislator.

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.

2 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Graydon DeCamp

    Pro-and-con is fine, but if that’s all you ofer, it’s a cop out. What does the Center for Michigan recommend on the six statewide proposals?

  2. kerri

    I belive in the right to unionize, and for collective baragining. It is the union fight and struggle that gave us the 8-hour work day; the 5-day work week; holidays off; health care benefits; safe work environments; and child-labor laws. Most of us forget that and take it for granted. Most of us (union workers or non-union) have given up much, taken concessions-especially the auto workers, who have had their health care providers and benefits/pensions/wages severely decreased. Most workers in hospitals are not guaranteed pensions or even health care fo life, even though they are health care workers. Police, fire fighters have taken concessions. But, the teacher’s union is unwilling to budge one bit, and it is beginning to sound like this proposal is all about them-or should I say “us”. Yes, I am a teacher, making $20,000.00 more right out of college than my sister-we both have a graduate degree. But, she is a social worker in the inner city. I am eating dinner before she is even off from work. I have summer off, along with more holidays and breaks than we did when I was growing up.She works evenings, weekends, holidays. We both

    love our jobs. I have premium health insurance for life, while she does not. I am tired of hearing my co-workers whine about how teachers are the most important workers of all..really? They don’t even want to make a move from BCBSM to a PPO, which still allows us access to the provider of our choice.

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