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Sep
2015
8

More Reports of MI Signature Collectors Lying to Get Prevailing Wage Repeal on the Ballot

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In Michigan, the well-funded wage opposition group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers is reporting that it is nearing the 252,523 signatures it needs to place a repeal of the prevailing wage on the ballot.  Using this method, Michigan Republicans can bypass Gov. Rick Snyder who opposes repeal and promised to veto the toxic middle class attack. Snyder believes it would diminish his efforts to develop the state’s young workforce.

Michigan Republican leaders have spent the bulk of this year, since gaining legislative majorities in last year’s election, pushing for prevailing wage repeal.  They have been unsuccessful because multiple Republicans fundamentally disagree with repeal.

A recent series of reports, however, calls the quality of the signatures into question. It appears that the signature gatherers hired by Protecting Michigan Taxpayers may have been obscuring the truth in order to secure the coveted John Hancocks.  MLive highlighted some of the falsehoods:

Bruce Sage, an attorney from Metro Detroit, told MLive he was approached this June by a man in a Meijer parking lot who asked him to sign a petition for a proposal to “ensure transparency in government.”

That sounded good to Sage, who said he started to sign his name before stopping to take a closer look at the physical petition.

“It was about the prevailing wage, and I said wait a minute, this isn’t about transparency in government,” Sage recounted. “Why would you say that? And this is what he said: ‘They told me to.'”

The circulator told him a company paying him to collect signatures had provided him with the description, Sage recounted, giving the name of a business that MLive could not confirm or locate. He scratched out his name on the petition.

“I was just appalled, apart from my own private political beliefs,” said Sage, who donated $75 to Democrat Mark Schauer’s gubernatorial campaign last year, according to public records. “You read about it in the paper, you know, dirty tricks, but this really got me upset.”

MLive featured the stories of two other Michiganders:

“It’s to increase Michigan’s labor force,” the woman told people passing by as she asked them to sign.

“As I’m sitting there in front of the library, I’m watching people walking in and out and just signing without paying attention,” Banks said. “I’m not sure if that’s just where we are as a society — people take someone’s word and sign — but it really bothered me.”

Jeff Winston, who works as a staffer for House Democrats, a caucus that generally opposes repeal, said he was with his family at “Movies in the Park” in Grand Rapids this summer when a woman asked him to sign a petition to “protect” prevailing wage.

The woman told him she was getting paid $2 per signature, according to Winston, who said he followed her around for about an hour, telling other residents that she was “lying” about the petition.

“She seemed pretty sincere when she was arguing her point — ‘No, no, no. This is to protect prevailing wage. That’s what my boss told me.’ — so I think she really believed that. And no matter what I said, she stuck to her messaging,” Winston said.

Patrick Devlin, Secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, touched on the misinformation campaign in a statement:

“We knew going in that the paid petition gatherers were going to be giving out misinformation and lies in order to get people to sign, and that’s what they’re doing.  That’s the situation we’re left with, but this issue still has to be passed by the Legislature or go to a vote of the people, so there’s still hope we can save prevailing wage.”

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers has until November to collect signatures for their ballot initiative.  Michigan AFL-CIO president Ron Bieber told CBS Detroit that protecting the prevailing wage is a top priority:

“If prevailing wages is repealed, what you’re going to see is unscrupulous, out-of-state contractors coming in, lowballing bids and bringing in unskilled workers, frankly, It’s not what’s in the best interest of the public.

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