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Michigan May Constitutionally Guarantee Collective Bargaining Rights

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"Michigan May Constitutionally Guarantee Collective Bargaining Rights"

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Protect Our Jobs, a Michigan group working to secure collective bargaining rights, gathered more than double the 323,000 signatures needed to place a question on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters if they want to enshrine those rights in the state constitution. Protect Our Jobs has filed the signatures with the Michigan Secretary of State, and awaits certification from the State Board of Canvassers.

Protect Our Jobs contends that workers rights are being attacked in their state, making the amendment necessary:

For more than a year, Lansing politicians and corporate special interests have made one attack after another on Michigan workers: cutting middle-class families’ wages, health care benefits, retirement security and safety protections.

They’re not done yet — there are more than 80 bills waiting for a vote in the state Legislature that would strip basic protections from working people.

These political attacks on basic collective bargaining rights have done nothing to put Michiganders back to work. Instead, all they’ve done is hurt middle-class families, small businesses and local communities.

The proposed amendment has already sparked significant opposition. A number of business groups have created Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution in order to work against it.

The initiative by Protect Our Jobs should be viewed not only in the context of attacks on labor rights in Michigan, but in the broader context of the assault on working people nationwide. In Wisconsin, for instance, stripping bargaining rights from public sector workers was merely the first step in a plan to divide and conquer unions in the state. In February, Indiana became the 23rd state to weaken unions by passing so called “right-to-work” legislation, and Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) recently called for the abolition of public sector unions. Arizona also attempted to join the parade of states weakening collective bargaining, but even Republicans balked at following through with the measure.

Alex Brown

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