By Josh Tucker
This November, Michigan voters will not only be electing its local and national representatives, but will also be voting on six different state proposals, five of them potential amendments to the Michigan Constitution. Proposal 2, specifically, would constitutionally recognize Michigan public and private employees’ right to organize into labor unions and bargain collectively with their employers.
Governor Snyder and others oppose Proposal 2 on the grounds that it will ultimately end up costing the state, and in turn the tax-payers, money. The Governor claims, “the passage of Proposal 2 would be devastating for the state [because it will] cause massive uncertainty and potentially much higher costs to the public sector, which will come out of taxes in some fashion.” The Governor and others are concerned that Proposal 2 will have the effect of invalidating dozens of state and local laws relating to workplace hours and conditions. The elimination of these laws already on the books will cause confusion, manifesting itself in increased costs.
Many see Proposal 2 as a response to the Public Act 4, a recently enacted Michigan law which allows the Governor to identify cities experiencing financial crises and appoint an emergency manager to usurp local governance in an effort to save the city from financial collapse. In doing so, these emergency managers have the authority to enact or invalidate local laws as well as void private contracts such as collective bargaining agreements. A constitutional amendment guaranteeing collective bargaining would likely block efforts by future emergency managers from taking such action.
Like so many other issues currently before the electorate, this proposal has become entrenched in the 2012 campaign cycle. Pollsters are predicting that the outcome of Proposal 2 will likely be pegged to the outcome of the presidential election within the state. If President Obama earns the state’s electoral votes, most predict that Proposal 2 will pass, while if Governor Romney is successful, Proposal 2 will likely fail. Michigan voters will have an opportunity to make their voices heard on this issue come November 6th.