The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last week that a proposed November ballot question to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state's constitution should be put before voters.
Protect Working Families, a coalition of labor unions backing what's now being labeled Proposal 2, is now ramping up its canvassing and phone banking efforts to educate voters.
"CWA is small, as far as the labor movement goes in Michigan. But we're definitely doing our fair share, above and beyond," said staff representative Mike Schulte. "I'm proud of my locals. On our first shift canvassing, we did 300 times what we were asked to do."
According to the ballot language, Proposal 2 would:
- Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
- Invalidate existing or future state and local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees' financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
- Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
- Define "employer" as a person or entity employing one or more employees.
It's been a wild ride for the ballot initiative.
Supporters collected nearly 700,000 signatures to put a proposal protecting collective bargaining on the ballot. The petition was approved by the state's Board of Canvassers in March.
But in July, Attorney General Bill Schuette — at the request of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder — issued an erroneous and politically-motivated opinion to take it off the ballot. Then, the Board of Canvassers deadlocked along party lines, blocking citizens from voting on the proposal in November. That's what sent the fight to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of Protect Working Families. The opposition's last-ditch appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court then failed.