Michigan vote could give unions massive power

Sunday, October 7, 2012
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

A labor policy expert is speaking out against what he calls the second-most significant thing on the ballot in the America this November.

The measure is called Proposal 2 [PDF], a ballot initiative in Michigan that aims to grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions. The proposal may sound innocent, but Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Michigan-based Mackinac Center, sees it a different way.

Vernuccio, Vincent"... Proposal 2 ... would enshrine unionization in Michigan's constitution, effectively giving government unions a veto over past, present and future legislation," explains Vernuccio. "The way Proposal 2 would do this is by making every government sector collective bargaining agreement have the power of the [Michigan] Constitution. Proposal 2 is probably the second-most significant thing on the ballot in the country this coming November."

Vernuccio adds that anything bargained for and won in government union collective bargaining agreements could supersede laws passed by elected representatives. That includes Michigan's 80/20 law.

"The 80/20 law says that Michigan taxpayers can only be on the hook for 80 percent of government employee healthcare," the spokesman says. "We estimate by repealing that alone, it could cost the state over a billion dollars a year in projected savings."

Michigan mapVernuccio warns that even the Freedom of Information Act and open meetings laws could be superseded by collective bargaining agreements that say information in the agreements must be kept private.

A check of Michigan's official state website, which offers the language being presented on this November's ballot [PDF], backs up Vernuccio's statements about superseding laws. Laws may be enacted, however, to prohibit public employees from striking.

Still, this measure will affect other states.

"The country is on a teeter right now," says Vernuccio. "You're seeing the reforms that are working in Wisconsin and Indiana being blocked in places like Illinois and Ohio. So the momentum is stagnant for the side of special interests and on the other side for workers, taxpayers and job creators.

"What this amendment will do is ... give momentum to one side or the other going forward, and if the unions are successful in Michigan, watch out because it could be coming to a state near you. Basically, any state that has a constitutional ballot initiative process could be vulnerable to an attack like this."

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