Michigan Supreme Court Approves Pro-Union Ballot Measure
September 6, 2012 10:17 am
Supporters of organized labor won an important battle in Michigan yesterday, as the justices of the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a measure enshrining collective bargaining rights in the state’s constitution can appear on November’s ballot. This is model legislation for protecting labor’s interest in the midwest, one of the nation’s few remaining manufacturing hubs.
The ballot measure, dubbed the “Protect Our Jobs” Act, received 700,000 supporting signatures — about double the necessary amount to appear on November’s ballot. But it came under assault from the state’s Republican Governor and Attorney General, who claimed that the proposed measure would have implications too complex to properly explain to voters.
Critics claim that the measure, if passed, would drive business away from the state. Only a few states, including Florida and Missouri, have opted to protect collective bargaining rights in their state constitutions.
Taken in context, Michigan’s close neighbors Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin have all experienced radical attempts to strip collective bargaining rights. Critics of the measure fault unions from protecting themselves from legislation that reflects a broader anti-union agenda, rather than the desires and votes of workers. (Eighteen percent of Michigan residents belong to a union — it stands to reason that most voters have observed the positive or negative economic outcomes of collective bargaining.)
If approved, the “Protect Our Jobs” act will:
- Establish the people’s rights to organize, to form, join or assist unions and to bargain collectively with public or private employers regarding wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment
- Prohibit employers from retaliating against their employees for exercising these rights
- Prohibit state and local government from interfering with these rights
- Authorize the state to restrict or prohibit public employee strikes
- Protect current laws establishing minimum wages, hours and working conditions
- Prohibit government from interfering with agreements respecting employees’ financial support of their unions
- Grant state civil service employees collective bargaining rights.
Image from here