by Félix Pérez
In the latest volley in the attempt by Michigan educators, police officers, nurses and working families to enshrine collective bargaining in the state’s constitution, the Michigan Court of Appeals voted 2-1 August 27 to place the proposal on the November ballot.
The vote, which opponents said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court, overturns an August 15 2-2 deadlock decision by the state Board of Canvassers that effectively kept the proposal off the ballot.
The Michigan Education Association, which represents more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and education support staff, said in a statement that the nearly 700,000 citizens who signed the Protect Our Jobs petitions cleared a “significant legal hurdle” toward allowing voters to decide the issue.
Protect Working Families, the volunteer coalition of nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, business owners and working people that brought the suit, said the court’s action is a “major victory” that affirmed the right of working families to vote on a proposal that safeguards workers’ rights.
Collective bargaining gives firefighters and police the ability to negotiate for life-saving equipment, protects nurses who speak up about a patient’s care and fights for the small class sizes teachers need to best educate our children,” the coalition said.
“Small business owners, the faith-based community and hundreds of elected officials support the rights of working families to vote on having a voice in their workplace,” said Protect Working Families in a release.
Governor Rick Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette have actively opposed the ballot proposal. They charge its effects on existing laws are far reaching.
Protect Our Jobs counters that the Secretary of State validated the petition signatures and that petition organizers have met every legal requirement. The coalition also points out that the Board of Canvassers unanimously approved the proposal in March, only to overturn it along party lines after an opinion by Schuette.
The Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal, say advocates, will:
- Establish the people’s rights to organize to form, join or assist unions and to bargain collectively with public or private employers regarding wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.
- Prohibit employers from retaliating against their employees for exercising those rights.
- Prohibit state and local governments from interfering with those rights.
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