Given the non-stop attacks on unions and unionization in Michigan since the 2010 elections, a union-backed effort to ask voters in November to enshrine in the state constitution the right of individuals to bargain collectively could help politicians know how their constituents feel about the issue once and for all.
Now that Republicans have firm control of both the House and Senate, Democrats and their union allies are powerless to stop GOP-backed efforts to weaken unions, and there have been a host of them.
For instance, the Legislature has already passed a nonsensical bill to prevent pubic school districts from automatically deducting employee union dues from paychecks. That's just plain retribution. Districts send money into checking and savings accounts and wouldn't save a dime by cutting off deductions for union dues. Why can't an employee decide that for himself? And the law is aimed only at teachers, not firefighters or state police troopers or state office workers. It's clearly just harassment.
But there is also talk in Lansing of trying to enact a right-to-work law like the one recently passed in Indiana, which would prohibit labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees, a much more serious assault on unions.
Union supporters need to gather at least 322,609 valid voter signatures by early July to put the proposed constitutional amendment before Michigan voters in November. The measure reads that "no existing or future law of the state ... shall abridge, impair or limit" the collective bargaining rights outlined in the proposal.
Unions have certainly led the way in raising wages, enacting workplace safety laws and helping women and minorities advance in the workplace. But critics say they have also fostered wage inflation, too many restrictive workplace laws and largely funded the Democratic party.
Before the war heats up further, it's time to give voters a say.