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As the birthplace of the American auto industry, Michigan is known for being union friendly. However, earlier this month, Michiganders felt at least in part, the need to go a new direction when they went to the polls. Two pro-union proposals, Proposal 2 and Proposal 4, were both defeated by voters.
Proposal Two would have enshrined collective bargaining in Michigan’s constitution. It would have given public and private employees the right to organize and bargain collectively, regardless of any existing or future state or local laws that might limit this ability. This union-backed proposition, which they called the “Protect our Jobs Amendment,” was supported by the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Federation of Teachers, and the Michigan AFL-CIO. Even with such support by union heavy hitters, including around $21 million in financial support, the measure was defeated by 14 points (43% for and 57% against the proposition). This defeat also paves the way for Michigan to become a Right to Work state, which would have been impossible had Proposal Two passed.
Proposal Four, which would classify home health care workers as public employees, also failed at the ballot box. "It was very deceptive. It said the purpose was to create a registry of home health care workers, guarantee good training and guarantee criminal background checks," said Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute. In truth, it would have helped these workers in terms of collective bargaining, but did not provide the perks of eligibility for a state pension or other benefits although their paychecks would have seen deductions for union dues. Many home health care workers are family members taking care of disabled adults and have no wish to be unionized and, thanks to Michigan voters, they will not be required to do so.
The failure of these two initiatives bodes well for workplace freedom. That these propositions would fail in union-friendly Michigan is a sign that voters are growing savvy to the ways in which unions work. Voters stood up for individual rights at the ballot box, and took a big step toward loosening the grip unions have on our decreasing workforce.