opinion: Protection of collective bargaining makes voting in favor of Proposal 2 vital
All workers in the State of Michigan need to vote "Yes" on Proposal 2 to ensure their rights to bargain collectively, since their very lives and health may depend on passage of this constitutional amendment. Collective bargaining includes the right to bargain for improved working conditions, including occupational safety and health, on the job.
Occupational safety and health has always been a major reason why workers will organize in the first place. Once organized, workers have access to their union Health & Safety Departments (though not all unions have them), with representatives who advocate for greater protective measures, stronger occupational health laws through OSHA, better enforcement of those laws, and more thorough health and safety educational and training programs. Active, educated members of a collective bargaining unit will use such safety and health information to help preserve their own lives, in addition to saving other workers’ lives and the lives of community members. Attacks on collective bargaining, as we have seen in recent years in Michigan and surrounding states, will have the effect of diminishing worker safety and health protections. The current GOP-controlled legislature is actively moving to reduce or do away entirely with MIOSHA regulations which are meant to protect Michigan’s workers.
The true intent of the GOP is to follow the dictates of the right-wing Mackinac Center and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who in 2010 communicated the following statement in an email, “Our goal is to outlaw government collective bargaining in Michigan.” One of the next likely steps to be taken by the GOP-dominated legislature in Michigan is to enact so-called “right to work” legislation. A recent study by Roland Zullo — Right-to-Work Laws and Fatalities in Construction — at the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, concluded that fatality and injury rates are higher in so-called ‘right to work’ states.
My sense is that Zullo’s conclusions would be applicable across general industry and public work sectors. Police, Firefighters, Teachers, and all public workers deserve safer working conditions, which they should be able to sit at a bargaining table and work out with their employers. MIOSHA worker protections are like minimum wage - nobody can make a decent living on minimum wage, and workers are barely made safe by MIOSHA regulations.
Therefore, all Michigan workers should be able to bargain for better protective measures, for better safety equipment, for better emergency procedures above and beyond the meager protections afforded by MIOSHA regulations. By voting Yes on Proposal 2, workers across Michigan can fight back and prevent needless death and injury on the job.