By Brian Pannebacker, Shelby Township
We are at a turning point in Michigan. Over the last 15 months, Governor Snyder has led the effort, along with the support of the legislature, to “re-invent Michigan” by making our state more attractive to businesses. Most of our elected representatives in Lansing know that we must become more competitive and create an environment that helps attract jobs to our state by reducing government regulations, and by simplifying and reducing business taxes. They understand that our economy depends on it. But now the union bosses have decided to try to roll back many of the gains that the Governor and the legislature have made over the last 15 months. Union bosses are trying to push through a drastic change to the Michigan State Constitution that would prevent our elected officials from ever passing laws that limit government union contracts. The union bosses want the power to dictate not only the work rules, wage scale, and the benefits that employees receive, they also want to be able to compel all employees of a company or business to pay dues which they can then use to fund left-wing political causes.
In the private sector, the cost is passed on to the customer, but in the case of government unions it is the taxpayer who foots the bill. We need only look at the cities of Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor and Ecorse to see the result when government unions become too powerful. In Detroit there are over 40 different union bargaining units. Over 40! And many of them have refused to make the necessary concessions to keep Detroit solvent, even as Governor Snyder has given them every opportunity to before he is forced to name an Emergency Financial Manager.
The union bosses response to our legislators attempts to rein in government unions; They want to make union contracts and their unreasonable demands “untouchable” by the democratically elected Legislature in Lansing. The union bosses are leading a petition drive to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to change our constitution and roll back dozens of pieces of legislation, including the much needed Emergency Manager Law that could be the last hope for cities like Detroit. The union backed-ballot initiative would prevent our elected officials from limiting their power in any way. It is unbelievable that greedy union bosses think that the voters of the state of Michigan would “hand them the keys” to our state’s economy, and say “go ahead, do for the rest of Michigan what you have done for Detroit, Flint and Pontiac … drive the state’s economy into the ditch, like the excessive union demands have done in numerous cities across the state”. And not only would this proposed union control lock in costs in government, they will also make unions more inclined to make unreasonable demands of businesses in the private sector, causing many businesses to avoid Michigan, and driving existing businesses out of our state and over the border into Indiana or Ohio where they are limiting the power of unions to dictate costs to businesses. We can’t afford to derail Michigan’s fragile recovery.
This blatant power-grab by the union bosses would be a death sentence for Michigan’s economy if it were allowed to become part of our state constitution. The legislature, our democratically-elected representatives, would be at the mercy of greedy, power hungry union bosses. Our state would be virtually powerless to limit the cost of government employees as it continues to spiral out of control. And in the private sector, with the prospect of Freedom-to-Work legislation eliminated, union demands would further increase labor costs in our state at a time when we should be lowering them and creating an environment more attractive to businesses.
We must assume that the union bosses will be able to mobilize their minions and collect the required number of signatures, and that this attempt to change our constitution will appear on the November ballot. In that event, it is imperative that every taxpayer realize the consequences of what giving the union bosses control of our state would mean; The union bosses want to do for the entire state of Michigan what they have done for the City of Detroit.
UAW member Local 228
Spokesman for Michigan Freedom to Work