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Michigan Seeks to Enshrine Collective Bargaining Rights in Constitution

Governor Rick Snyder

After a long series of coordinated attacks on the collective bargaining rights of working families in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, union members and their allies in Michigan are being proactive. They have placed a referendum on the ballot, known as Proposal 2, which would make the right to collective bargaining part of the state's constitution and would ban "right to work" for less laws.

No longer content to hold off attacks on the rights of working families or spend enormous amounts of time and money to overturn such laws, Michigan residents decided to cut off such assaults permanently before they can even get started.

If the referendum is approved, working families would have a voice in bargaining for fair wages, benefits and working conditions. If it fails, corporate interests would have significantly more influence over workplace conditions than the workers who have to live with them.

AFT President Randi Weingarten recently tweeted about the proposal:


Opponents of the measure, including Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and education "reformer" Michelle Rhee, have relied upon a litany of falsehoods and exaggerations in attempting to stop the law. Not to mention massive sums of money. Among the more egregious claims about the law:

  • "It would make children unsafe by making it harder to remove teachers who are abusive or child predators": Endangering children is illegal and this law would not change that or make it any harder to remove abusive teachers.
  • "It would take rights away from parents": It wouldn't, which is why the Michigan Parent-Teacher Association supports it. 
  • "It would limit the ability of the legislature to pass laws relating to teachers": Only if they were proposing laws like stripping teachers of the right to collectively bargain or making the state a "right to work" state.
  • "It would cost the state jobs": There is no evidence to support such a claim and the auto industry in Michigan has rebounded strongly while workers have exercised the right to collectively bargain.
  • "It's an end-run around the Democratic process": Except that the proposal would be voted in by the people.
  • "It would force people to join a union": Forcing someone to join a union is illegal under federal law and cannot be overriden by a state constitutional amendment.

Visit the Protect Working Families website to learn more about Proposal 2 and how it will affect Michigan and Michigan's working families.

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