A labor policy expert is speaking out against what he calls the
second-most significant thing on the ballot in the America this
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.
"... 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
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."
Vernuccio 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of Information Act and open meetings laws could be superseded by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
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."