Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Michigan Unions’ Trojan Horse Amendment

Big Labor’s gambit to overrun Michigan state government will go before voters after the state supreme court rejected all challenges to a ballot initiative that would tie the hands of legislators to make any public-sector labor reforms and forbid private-sector reform measures. The misleadingly-named “Protect Our Jobs” (“POJA”) proposal would amend the state constitution to make collective bargaining a “right.”

Although plenty of union activists like to talk about what “rights” they have and ought to have, POJA, also now known as Proposal 2, goes beyond collective bargaining.  The law would primarily apply to the public sector unions in Michigan. The Mackinac Center has pointed out some major problems with the proposal:

POJA would make public employment laws moot because any collective bargaining agreement with government unions would have the power of the constitution and overrule state and local law. The only labor-related legislative power POJA leaves to the voters’ elected representatives is making laws concerning strikes and setting minimum collective bargaining standards for government employees.

It would also make it impossible to add Michigan to the list of the 23 right to work states without another constitutional amendment. The Wall Street Journal fittingly referred to this ploy as “A Reverse Wisconsin,” while the Detroit News called it a “Trojan horse.”

Unfortunately, this radical proposal will be on the ballot, although it failed approval by the Board of State Canvassers. The measure also survived the legal challenge brought by the governor and attorney general, who argued that the 100 word proposal language would inadequately explain what changes were really being made. The attorney general noted that this amendment would invalidate 170 laws currently on the books. Proposal 2’s text, now available, fails to mention that.

But as F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center, told Reuters:

“Right now, it’s with the voters […] They can vote for it and give Michigan to the special interests … or against and leave the power where it should be, with the state’s elected representatives.”

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