‘Radical constitutional amendment’ follows pattern of failed attempts by unions to rig system in their favor
By MICHAEL JAHR
Supporters of the “Protect Our Jobs” constitutional amendment reportedly submitted enough signatures to the Michigan Department of State last month to get the measure on the November ballot. The amendment, advanced primarily by government-sector unions, would undo billions of dollars in reforms adopted in Michigan over the last 18 months.
“This ballot measure is a radical constitutional amendment that makes government-sector unions more powerful than the Legislature,” said Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “If it passes, unions will set public policy in secret negotiations with their government employers. Lawmakers won’t be able to override anything they decide.”
Lehman invited UAW President Bob King, a principal supporter of the amendment, to publicly debate the issue. Lehman debated the issue with a representative of “Protect Our Jobs” last month at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Island Policy Conference.
“The unions already have a track record of three failed attempts to rig the game,” Lehman said. “Some 54 percent of voters refused to carve collective bargaining into the state Constitution in 2002, and 62 percent of voters refused to mandate automatic annual increases in school funding in 2006, most of which would have gone to union employees. In 2010, the courts rejected the Reform Michigan Government Now scheme after Mackinac Center analysts found a secret PowerPoint presentation on a UAW website.”
“It is apparent that government unions did not learn anything from the Wisconsin recall vote last week,” said Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center. “Once again, they’re pursuing policies that will enshrine special privileges for what amounts to just 3 percent of the population at the expense of the rest of us.”
(Michael Jahr is vice president for Communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute based in Midland.)