Come November, Michigan voters may get a chance to decide whether their state protects collective bargaining rights. The constitutional amendment would prevent Michigan from banning union shops. It would stop the state from being able to pass the kind of so-called “right to work” law now in effect in 23 states. And despite the long decline of union membership nationwide and the mixed results for unions in the Wisconsin recalls, Michigan’s labor initiative has a real chance.
This being Michigan, the process is kind of a mess. The measure has been challenged by a business group with ties to the Chamber of Commerce and the elections board. Operating under an order from a lower court, the state elections board on Monday certified the question for the ballot. Now the business group can appeal to the high court, but for now the measure is going forward.
The side pushing the pro-union question, Protect Our Jobs, posted a new ad today featuring Chrysler worker Stacie Steward. Full transcript:
This plant was on the death list. Now we’ve added and a shift and we’re expanding. Our industry is coming back, and we are fighting for our future. We’re making vehicles better than ever, bringing jobs back to America from Mexico. We have paid the government ahead of schedule. We have all pulled together through tough times. Collective bargaining is what got us here – management and workers negotiating. It’s not just about my job. It’s about this plant, this whole community. Protect collective bargaining. Vote yes.
Tying union rights to the rebirth of the auto industry seems to be working. Polls over the last month show that Michigan voters like the idea of protecting collective bargaining, by margins of 10 percent (pdf) and more.