editorial: MLive Media Group: Vote no on Michigan's Proposal 2 to keep Michigan competitive for jobs and investment
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A “no” vote is essential to keep Michigan competitive for jobs and investment. Don’t believe ads that have been telling you that this proposal is about preserving public safety or protecting the quality of education. That’s a blatant misdirection; this proposal is unions going on the offensive to embed in our state constitution rights that already are granted under state and federal law - the rights to organize for collective bargaining. It would create an environment where employees could be compelled into union membership — not through law, but through a contract stipulation.
Here, in plain language from the Citizens Research Council, is what the proposal is about: “ allow collectively bargained labor contracts to undo all previously enacted restrictions on the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining and forbid the enactment of future legislation that would affect those rights.”
In short, any locally bargained contract term would supersede state laws. Not only that, but opponents argue the proposal would cause the repeal of as many as 170 existing laws, throwing several other legal and constitutional mandates into confusion and, according to the CRC, almost certainly into court.
The problem is, there is no problem. Michigan has the fifth-highest concentration of union membership in the country, and in the public sector, 55 percent of all employees belong to unions, according to the CRC. Backers of this proposal - and we will note that the petition signatures were collected by volunteers, rather than paid canvassers - are going on the offensive to build protections against perceived future threats, such as the bitter fights in other states over “right to work” provisions or specific laws that restrict work rules.
The truth is, Gov. Rick Snyder has said clearly and repeatedly that he has no interest in pushing those divisive battles; he convinced fellow Republicans to back off right to work. Certainly, there is no guarantee that will never be revisited in the Legislature, but that is an argument for when and if that day comes.
And even if right to work ever becomes law, it’s important to note it does not impair unions' rights to organize and collectively bargain. Constitutionally blocking even the ability to have that discussion would foolishly shackle Michigan in a battle to compete for investment and jobs.
Snyder was unsuccessful in another pursuit: trying to convince unions not to put this issue on the ballot.
The governor knows better than most that Michigan is in competition with other states in the Midwest, and throughout the country, which have far more business-friendly climates. Unions have a rich history in Michigan, but one lasting legacy is a reputation for making it difficult and costly to do business.
Adding aggressive constitutional primacy to union bargaining imperatives would be a disaster for economic growth; would make state budget building infinitely more difficult; and ironically, ultimately hurt the very people the proposal purports to protect: The workers who are counting on Michigan’s continued comeback to deliver a paycheck for them, and a future for their children.
Proposal 2 is unnecessary and reckless: We urge a "no" vote.
This endorsement is the opinion of the editorial board of MLive Media Group, the parent company of MLive.com. The board is made up of the company's executive leadership, content directors and editors who oversee the 10 local markets that make up MLive Media Group.