GENESEE COUNTY — On Nov. 6, Proposal 2012-02 asks voters if they want to amend the Michigan Constitution and make it a fundamental law of the state to allow public and private sector employees to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining.
An affirmative vote on the proposal would add Section 28 to Article I and amend Section 5, Article XI of the Michigan Constitution and effectively allow collectively bargained labor contracts to supercede all previous laws restricting the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining. It would also forbid the enactment of future legislation that would effect these rights.
However, the proposal allows the State of Michigan to continue to exercise the ability to prohibit strikes by public sector employees.
A vote against this amendment would allow laws to set parameters within which collective bargaining exists for such entities as local governments and school districts.
For the private sector, the right of workers to organize and the duty of employers to bargain with their employee’s representatives is established by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA gives unions the privilege of seeking provisions in their negotiated contracts that force employees to join the union and have the employer collect dues.
However, states may pass legislation creating exceptions to this privilege in the form of right to work laws, such as laws outlawing union shop and agency shop rules.
Ultimately, if voters choose to pass Propoasal 2012-02, it would prohibit the Michigan legislature from enacting right to work laws.
Ultimately, the question is whether the Michigan legislature should have any input over the ability of public sector workers to organize.