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Unions Outgunning Opposition In Michigan

Organized labor is driving hard to enshrine collective bargaining right in Michigan State constitution. If Proposal 2 passes this November, they will have done just that, taking Michigan closer to a Mediterranean-style rigid and disastrous labor market.

So far, it looks like they are succeeding and no wonder, based on how much money is being spent by Unions and their allies. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supported by the Joyce Foundation (that strives for improving public policies in the Great Lakes region), published precise figures on the financial activity of the committees involved in the November ballot. As far as the collective bargaining issue (Proposal 2) is concerned, three committees are involved. The proponent committee, “Protect our Jobs,” lobbies for enshrining collective bargaining in the state constitution, while two committees, “Michigan Chamber PAC II” and “Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution,” oppose all the ballot questions.

By the time the MCFN release was issued, July 27, POJA has raised $8,143,307 from a long list of Michigan unions and spent $1,153,619 by that time, mainly for personnel. A partial list of unions and their expenditures include:

  • UAW: $1,250,000
  • UAW Solidarity House: $1,028,480
  • Michigan Education Association: $585,681
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME): $500,000
  • American Federation of Teachers-Michigan: $460,000
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters: $333,334
  • MEA Professional Staff Association: $300,000
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $252,574
  • Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters: $250,000

Two committees, Michigan Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) II and Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution (CPMC), oppose Proposal 2. As CPMC states in its website HandsOffOurConstitution.com: “Help us stop the special interest assault on Michigan’s constitution. It’s your constitution, not theirs, and we’re not going to let them cash in on our constitution.”

Chamber PAC II has raised $284,470. Of that total, $269,000 is from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. The Michigan Chamber is the unified voice of approximately 6,800 member employers, trade associations, and local chambers of commerce of every size and type in all 83 counties of the state.

Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution has raised $340,150 to fight the unions’ proposal. Its top donor is the Michigan Chamber of Commerce at $100,000. Contributors who have contributed $30,000 each include:

  • Business Leaders for Michigan
  • Small Business Association of Michigan
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association
  • Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • West Michigan Policy Forum

So, as of end of July 2012, the union coalition was outspending its opponents by a factor of 13. Two reflections can be made from those figures and such a big difference in resources.

The first is just how much is at stake for the unions this November. But that’s not what unions want you to think. An ad produced by POJ committee says: “Yes on Proposal 2 doesn’t add any rights workers don’t already have. It doesn’t force people to join unions. It doesn’t put a single worker into a union who isn’t already in one. It doesn’t require anyone to pay dues.” This statement is factually false, as explained by “Truth Squad,” a branch of The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit organization that enacts in improving the quality of information about politics. Which makes sense: would you spend $8 million to gain nothing in return?

Second, the difference in resources devoted to lobbying is actually having an impact. According to a poll conducted during the second week of September by EPIC-MRA of Lansing for Detroit Free Press, the collective bargaining proposal stands at 48 percent for and 43 percent against, with the rest undecided.

Unions are trying to buy their way into the Michigan Constitution. Don’t Michiganders think that their constitution is worth more than $8 million dollars?