Progressive coalition “Protect Our Jobs” pushes Michigan constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining

A coalition of “front-line teachers, first responders, construction workers, and clergy” called “Protect Our Jobs” is holding a press conference this afternoon to kick-off a petition drive for a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights for Michigan workers. The purpose of the amendment is to enshrine into our state Constitution the basic right of every worker to collective bargaining.

From their press release:

Constitutional amendment seeks to protect collective bargaining rights, strengthen Michigan’s middle class

LANSING – Working men and women from across Michigan will gather at the state Capitol in Lansing tomorrow to formally launch the “Protect Our Jobs” campaign. Grassroots volunteers will begin gathering signatures tomorrow to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to protect collective bargaining rights, and strengthen the middle class.

WHAT: Press conference announcing the Protect Our Jobs campaign
WHO: Front-line teachers, first responders, construction workers, and clergy
WHEN: Tuesday, March 6, 1:00pm
WHERE: Room 405, State Capitol, Lansing
WHY: To rebuild our economy, we all need to work together to protect Michigan workers and strengthen the middle class to help small businesses create jobs. Over the past year, Lansing politicians have moved one anti-worker measure after another, doing nothing to help put Michigan back to work. Now more than ever, workers need the right to speak up and protect our wages and benefits. The Protect Our Jobs campaign will launch a grassroots effort tomorrow to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to protect collective bargaining rights for all Michigan workers, and help strengthen the middle class.

A Fact Sheet about the proposed amendment can be downloaded HERE (pdf).

Organizers tell me there are over 80 bills in the state legislature aimed at destroying the collective bargaining rights of Michigan workers. This initiative is aimed at protecting those rights and protecting our workers from further job cuts and erosion of their benefits.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder claims he’s not interested in laws that gut collective bargaining for Michiganders but has yet to announce that he will veto them. It’s a typical obfuscation by him where he allows the ultra-conservative Republicans in the state House and Senate do all the “dirty work” while he tries to remain above the fray and out of the discussion. There’s little doubt in the minds of those paying attention about whether or not he would sign such bills into law. He would. He has less to lose by doing so than he will if he goes against the conservative Republican majority in the legislature.

Groups supporting the Protect Our Jobs initiative include We Are The People – Michigan, the Michigan Nurses Association, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization, the Michigan branch of the American Federation of Teachers, the Michigan AFL-CIO, the Michigan UAW, the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, the National Education Association, the Michigan Education Association, Progress Michigan, the Michigan Democratic Party and others.

Be on the look-out for these petitions and be sure to sign one. If you’d like to help by volunteering for the effort, you can do so HERE. NOTE: YOU WILL NEED TO SIGN A PETITION IN-PERSON. THERE IS NO ONLINE PETITION. YOU MAY ONLY SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER ONLINE, NOT SIGN THE PETITION.

Petition language is after the jump.

Here’s the petition language:


The proposal would add a new Section 28 to Article I of the State Constitution, as follows:


(1) The people shall have the rights to organize together to form, join or assist labor organizations, and to bargain collectively with a public or private employer through an exclusive representative of the employees’ choosing, to the fullest extent not preempted by the lAWs of the United States.

(2) As used in subsection (1), to bargain collectively is to perform the mutual obligation of the employer and the exclusive representative of the employees to negotiate in good faith regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and to execute and comply with any agreement reached; but this obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or make a concession.

(3) No existing or future law of the State or its political subdivisions shall abridge, impair or limit the foregoing rights; provided that the State may prohibit or restrict strikes by employees of the State and its political subdivisions. The legislature’s exercise of its power to enact laws relative to the hours and conditions of employment shall not abridge, impair or limit the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment that exceed minimum levels established by the legislature.

(4) No existing or future law of the State or its political subdivisions shall impair, restrict or limit the negotiation and enforcement of any collectively bargained agreement with a public or private employer respecting financial support by employees of their collective bargaining representative according to the terms of that agreement.

(5) For purposes of this Section, “employee” means a person who works for any employer for compensation, and “employer” means a person or entity employing one or more employees.

(6) This section and each part thereof shall be self executing. If any part of this section is found to be in conflict with or preempted by the United States Constitution or federal law, such part shall be severable from the remainder of this section, and such part and the remainder of this section shall be effective to the fullest extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit.

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

I am a chemist by day and progressive liberal blogger by very early morning and very late night. I live just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan with my lovely and talented photographer wife, Anne C. Savage. I am a vegetarian and an avid organic gardener who loves to cook. I'm heavily involved in county-level Democratic Party activities and am on the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Board as co-vice chair for precinct organizing.
Chris Savage (aka Eclectablog)
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  1. memiller says:

    I heard about this a few weeks ago at my AFT meeting. Then, the question was, do we (the collective labor/progressive community) have the resources to do this? Evidently, the answer is, yes — we have no choice.

    This really is the end game for Michigan labor. If we lose this, there will still be something called the labor movement here, but it will have very little power compared with what we have had, and our legislators will be picked by the Chamber of Commerce, and our laws written by the Mackinac Center and ALEC. Not just this cycle, but in perpetuity.

    So I am committing to collecting 500 signatures for this myself. This is more important, in the long run, than repealing PA4, or recalling Gov. Snyder, or any of the other intitatives/referenda that will be on the ballot this fall. This will determine whether we have the ability to even fight any of these battles in the future.

  2. james grimes says:

    Occupy Wall Street appears (in America) to be a dysfunctional organization, with no real leadership.

    Signs that say: Occupy Wall Street, et cetera? Are meaningless! They say nothing that will create action from the working class.

    This is a sign that means something and it will get global media attention is this:



    What good is a protest without a plan? Now there is a plan!

    Fair trade is what this plan is all about, by achieving upward global wage parity.

    Since 1988 both parties have held the Presidency an equal amount of time, and neither party has done anything but pay lip service to the plight of the American worker.

    We’ll soon be in a global depression. And the problem isn’t China; the problem is international financiers and multinational corporations exploiting virtural slave labor to cultivate huge bonuses at the expense of tens of millions of unemployed men and women from so-called developed economies. These unemployed men and women represent billions of dollars of lost tax revenue in federal and state income tax and consumer sales tax.

    Pension funds across this country are under-funded by trillions of dollars that can’t be made up by unemployed workers.

    A three-billon dollar fund to retrain the unemployed: What a joke, to do what flip hamburgers at McDonalds? If it weren’t tragic, it would be laughable!

    Ryan, Romney and Obama remain clueless to just how perilous the global economy really is. They’re too busy pandering to the fat cats on Wall Street and Super Pac’s.

    Here’s part of their respective jobs plans, cut corporate taxes from 35% to 25% or 28%.

    That’s a great sound bite, but here’s the truth: Corporations in the U.S. paid only an average of 12.1 percent in taxes on the profits they earned inside the U.S in fiscal 2011, according to statistics from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

    The Wall Street Journal reports that it’s the lowest percentage corporations have paid on those profits since at least 1972, and it’s less than half of the 25.6 percent they paid on average between 1987 and 2008

    Corporations saw their profits; however, reach an all-time high at the end of 2010. The $1.68 trillion in annualized profits in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 beat the previous record of $1.65 trillion in the third quarter of 2006.

    Romney is Wall Street greed personified. So we have two Wall Street lackey’s running for the Presidency. Occupy Wall Street needs to mount a focused protest demanding immediate action. No more political rhetoric.

    Probably half the members of congress would jump ship from party dogma, if the felt they had public support. And then things would begin to happen.


    Within 5 years this project will create global wage parity (upwards) allowing all economies to prosper. The only global competition will be based on quality and innovation.

    Initially Wall Street will scream and holler, because their mammoth unearned bonuses will disappear. And of course, because Wall Street controls Congress, the politicians will run for cover.

    It’s up to you and me and everyone in our address book to flush them out.
    Below is a detailed outline of our modus operandi.
    Suspend all so-called free trade agreements immediately. Western Europe and most developed economies (with few exceptions) like the USA have exported their manufacturering base for exactly the same reason. Cheap labor. And they’re paying for it, the same way the American middle class is.

    In truth, formally suspending trade agreements is irrelevant; trade will cease as global manufacturering grinds to a halt. The Chinese economy will collapse as the consuming so-called developed economies falter under massive debt as their payroll tax base shrinks and unemployment rises.

    This plan will allow for an orderly transition over a period of three years and will fund the entire stimulus plan: (a graduated tax, beginning at 1% for the first 6 months, 2% between, 6 & 9 months, 3 % between 9 & 12 months, 5% between 12 & 18 months, 10 % between 18 & 24 months and 15 % from 24 months & over) on all manufactured imports and outsourced services, i.e.; tech support.

    This fund will provide billions to the federal treasury, allowing for a massive infrastructure construction project.

    The surcharge will force offshore American corporations like General Electric, Motorola and Wal-Mart to relocate all manufacturing and assembly back to this country on all products sold in the USA and pay American wages or pay the surcharge.

    General Motors, Ford and Chrysler can still build cars and parts in foreign countries. Now they’ll just have to sell them there or pay a graduated surcharge. This applies to all industries, including offshore service centers.

    Foreign companies are more than welcome to sell in the USA, as long as they manufacture their products in the USA and pay livable wages.

    This country is in desperate need of real political leadership; not beholding to the Wall Street moneychangers. I certainly hope you’ll join with me and make America a great country once more.
    The response has been overwhelming, and it’s literally growing exponentially hour-by-hour from virtually every country in the world. It’s truly unbelievable. It may take forever to accept all friends request, so don’t be deterred, it isn’t apathy, it’s time allocation.

    With your help we can mount an unstoppable movement of hundreds of millions and end the madness and greed. Keep it going! Suggest all your friends.

    Together, we can make it happen!

    I can be contacted at:

    James Grimes

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