This November on the Michigan ballot voters will have the opportunity to amend the state constitution in regards to collective bargaining. This initiative, titled Proposal 2, will:
- Grant public and private the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively.
- Invalidate existing and future laws that limit individuals rights to collectively bargain.
- Allow laws to be enacted that can prohibit public employees from striking.
- Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment that are in conflict with collectively bargained agreements.
- Define an employer as being a person or entity that employs one or more employees.
Writing from the perspective of an educator that has been part of the bargaining process I can write with a clear conscious that the process keeps the BEST interest of students as the MAIN focus. If bargaining were not to occur students would lose. Educators always bargain for small class sizes; better classroom and school conditions; and for more stringent requirements on educator advancement and entrance into the profession.
On Sunday October 21st the Detroit Free Press, a self admitted and historically positive supporter of unions, publicly endorsed Big Business over Labor. The newspaper is asking Michigan voters to vote no on Proposal 2. Their reasoning for this decision is that it "...would handcuff local and state governments in their dealings with public employees. Even criminal background checks for teachers or drug testing for cops and firefighters would be subject to bargaining." Really? Who in their right mind thinks teachers are going to bargain against background checks for those employed in our schools? Another common claim is that this proposal will open up the flood gates to educator strikes and protests. Special interest groups have been spending ridiculous amounts of money to disparage teachers by using these types of falsehoods. The Detroit Free Press even succumbed to this flurry of misconceptions; one wonders why?
In the last several weeks TV commercials sponsored by groups such as Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution have been attempting to thwart Proposal 2. Their deep pocket spending has allowed them to run advertisements that are misleading and at times completely lies. The pitch in one commercial is that Proposal 2 "opens the door" to allow teachers to strike http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjjsvqsOGKM . This is a complete lie. As indicated above, the proposal "allows" laws to be made to prevent striking.
Another group titled, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, makes the accusation that Proposal 2 will allow teachers to bargain contractual clauses, such as allowing teachers to be caught drunk five times, before any corrective action is taken. Watch it for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ke-QTNvUMY . If such an egregious clause were negotitiated into contract language much of the blame goes on that specific school district, human resource director or superintendent for agreeing to it; not the employee or its union. The bottom line is that these special interest groups are able to spend money to make commercials that spread lies and mis-information to the public all in effort to place fear in the voter's mind.
Linked to the campaign to block the enactment are such wealthy Michigan businessmen as Dick DeVos and Ron Weiser. An article, was written by Carol Cain, in the Detroit Free Press the same day it endorsed a no vote on Proposal 2 titled "Leaders Show Passion for, against ballot Proposal 2." Read it for yourself: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012310210163 . The article indicates that DeVos himself is a leader in the fundraising campaign for the special interest group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers. One must ask themselves why would DeVos, the 2006 Republican candidate for Michigan, and Weiser, the former Michigan GOP chairman, put so much effort and money into defeating such a proposal? The bottom line is that they both gained wealth as businessmen. They both know that individual profit margins would have been far greater if there were less restrictions on their businesses. They both know that organized labor was the check and balance mechanism on their power. As business leaders they relish the thought of unlimited power over labor, even at the detriment of student and citizen safety. Money Talks and the Well-being of Michigan Citizens Walks! Vote YES on Proposal 2 to ensure this doesn't happen.