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LOSE-WIN: In Michigan, Collective Bargaining Enshrinement, Public Approval of International Bridge Construction Both Voted Down

Michigan voters headed to the polls on Tuesday with the direction of their state’s foreseeable future in the balance and they chose to reject Proposal 2 which would have enshrined in the state’s constitution a worker’s right to collectively bargain. Nearly $48 million was spent on the proposal. As of late last night, with 70 percent of votes tallied, the proposal was behind 58-42.

Michigan currently has the nation’s fifth highest union density with 18.3 percent of its workforce organized.

Via The Huffington Post:

If Proposal 2 had become an amendment, it would have voided existing and future laws restricting workers’ ability to organize unions, or to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. But it still would have permitted lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting public employees from striking. The measure would have also overridden state laws regulating hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflicted with collective bargaining agreements.

Opponents of Proposal 2 claimed that passage would have eliminated hundreds of existing labor laws and therefore was overreaching. Michigan voters are also notoriously disinterested in amending the state constitution. Still, the future of “Right-to-Work” in Michigan, something labor is concerned about, remains uncertain. Gov. Snyder has in the past said he does not support the measure labeling it as “divisive.”

According to Protecting Working Families, the group behind Proposal 2,

The proposal was beaten by corporate opponents that spent $32 million “lying to voters to confuse them. Working people will continue the fight to ensure a voice for fair wages, benefits and safe working conditions that benefit us all.”

But, Michigan voters rejected all proposals, a sign that no matter the intent the state’s residents are cold to the idea of changing their constitution. As WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick told CBS Detroit,

“There was a lot of confusion out there and when people don’t know what they’re voting on, they usually either don’t vote on it or they vote no.

He added that voters seemed disinclined to do anything that would involve changing the constitution.

“Obviously the most effective commercial out of the $150 million that was spent on commercials, was the one with the husband and the wife and he said ‘Honey, I don’t want to put this junk on the constitution.’ The husband says ‘You’re right, sweetheart,’ and everybody else apparently listened to that because all of the proposals went down,” Skubick said.

Proposal 6 was among the other defeated measures. It would have required a public vote to approve construction of any International bridges. Its intention was to halt the construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor. A new bridge, which has been discussed for nearly a decade, is supported by labor because it will bring an estimated 10,000 construction jobs to the region. Prop 6 was supported by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun whose family was trying to protect their effective monopoly on international crossings in the state.

Tom Shields, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Monopolies, a business-backed group that opposed the ballot initiative and supports the new bridge told,

“Michigan voters were asked to decide, and they did. Michigan voters today overwhelmingly voted to move our state forward by affirming Michigan’s agreement with Canada to build the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) connecting Detroit and Windsor, Michigan and Ontario, the US and Canada.”

The proposal was rejected by a margin of 60 to 40.


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