Excerpt from: The New York Times (click for full article)
Tired of battling legislative efforts to roll back union rights in state after state, organized labor is trying a new strategy: going on the offense. The first target is Michigan, the cradle of the United Automobile Workers and a bastion of union power.
Michigan’s unions are asking voters to approve a referendum on the ballot this November, known as Proposal 2, that would lock a series of labor protections into the state Constitution, including the right of public sector unions to bargain collectively and a prohibition against the legislature’s enacting a “right to work” law.
At the moment, the proposal’s chances of passing are difficult to predict. Proponents had a significant lead at first, but that has eroded as business-backed groups have escalated their attacks. A Detroit News poll released Oct. 12 found that 43.2 percent of the 600 people surveyed supported the proposal, and 41.8 percent opposed it. The difference was within the poll’s margin of error.
Union leaders say Proposal 2 has a simple aim: to protect collective bargaining against further assault.
Governor Snyder is fighting hard to defeat Proposal 2 and preserve the emergency manager law, which was updated during his tenure.
Ivy Bailey, an elementary-school teacher in Detroit, said collective bargaining helped lift her father, a longtime assembly plant worker at General Motors, into the middle class and send two daughters to college.
“People fought for the right for us to bargain,” she said. “If we could trust the boss to do the right thing, we wouldn’t need collective bargaining.”