The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 12, 2012

Proposal 2 a stealth missile for U.S. labor?

By The Building Tradesman

During this presidential election year, and with six proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot, Michigan’s Proposal 2 is flying a bit under the radar in terms of national attention, but it’s certainly not going unnoticed.

Conservative lawmakers and big-money backers are expected to spend millions to defeat the measure, with the first $1.7 million ad buy taking place late last month. Millions will be spent by both sides on the ballot issue. And while it’s passage in Michigan would be historic, it’s potential impact in other states could be huge as well.

Here’s a sampling about what some pundits are saying about Proposal 2:

Headline: ‘America’s most important ballot question you’ve never heard of (yet)’

“Now comes the counter-revolution, represented by Michigan’s Proposal 2, dubbed the “Protect Our Jobs Act.”

“The initiative states: ‘No existing or future law of the state or its political subdivisions shall abridge, impair or limit’ the union organizing rights listed.

“Talk about an advance directive. ‘Rights’ listed in the proposal reference nearly unlimited protections to form and keep labor unions in the public sector, with profound implications also for the private sector – and to compel unwilling actors to join unions as a condition of employment.

“For fiscal conservatives and advocates of limited and open government, Michigan’s Prop. 2 is likely the most important state ballot question you’ve never heard of (yet).’

–, Sept. 12, 2012

Headline: “Unions strike back in Michigan:”

“The outcome for the initiative will be hugely consequential in a region of the country where conflict over collective bargaining has drawn national attention over the last year. Unions suffered significant blows when they failed to recall Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and when Indiana passed right-to-work legislation. But the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike and Ohio voters’ rejection of Governor John Kasich’s reforms concerning public-employee unions show that labor leaders still have a lot of sway in the heartland.

“Passage of the Michigan initiative would be a big strategic victory for the unions, according to Vinnie Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. ‘The fact of the matter is that Prop 2 would fundamentally change the power structure in Michigan,’ he says. ‘And nationally, if it goes through in Michigan, watch out, because it’s coming to a state near you.’

“Vernuccio argues that if union leaders succeed in making Michigan the first state to give constitutional protection to collective-bargaining rights, they would push for similar measures in the other 18 states that allow voter-initiated constitutional amendments.”

National Review Online, Oct. 1, 2012.

Headline: “The next battleground in the state labor wars:”

“So Michigan is the new battleground for labor politics. Either its unions’ daring scheme will succeed, handing labor a blueprint to reclaim lost ground elsewhere. Or it will fail, with labor’s influence continuing to wane nationwide. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”

– Shikha Dalmia, senior analyst, the Reason Foundation, published in the Oct. 1, 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed page.