Democrats want to put collective bargaining right in state constitution

Mar 17, 2011

Democrats in the state Legislature want to voters to decide whether collective bargaining rights should be protected in the Michigan Constitution. But they will need a two-thirds majority in a Republican-led House and Senate to get the question on the ballot.   

State Senator Bert Johnson says without a constitutional amendment, collective bargaining rights are subject to change. 

"Well I think anything short of a constitutional amendment actually leaves it to chance; by actions of other bills that may or may not be proposed, and certainly by the actions of the governor as he tries to resolve the budget.”

Johnson says if the proposal does not pass through the Legislature, the labor movement may try a ballot initiative. 

"We’ve had a lot of discussions with a lot of union organizations and a lot of members about issues like this, so we understand where their interest lies and where the zeal is to get something like this done.”   

Democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced amendment proposals. It is unclear how much support they have from their Republican counterparts.        Many union members have protested at the state Capitol over the last few weeks against what they say are union-busting measures to limit collective bargaining rights.