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Freep Editorial Page Editor Not Going to be Bullied by Prop 2 Supporters

Stephen Henderson says he offered to meet anytime the unions wanted

Stephen Henderson supports unions and believes collective bargaining is good for workers.

But the Detroit Free Press editorial page editor isn't going to be thrown under the bus by Proposal 2 backers who disagree with his opinion that Proposal 2 is bad for Michigan and doesn't belong in the state's constitution.

The Detroit Free Press editorial page on Sunday said voters should vote "no" on Proposal 2.

In response, the unions behind Proposal 2 called out Henderson and said they were not given a chance to meet with the Free Press editorial board, a claim Henderson vehemently denies.

The disagreement highlights the difficulty Proposal 2 is having even getting traditional union allies to sign on. Phil Power, chairman of Center for Michigan and former University of Michigan Democrat Regent, wrote Oct. 23 that he was against Proposal 2. The Detroit NewsLansing State Journal, Midland Daily News and almost every prominent newspaper in the state that has taken a position has editorialized against the amendment proposal.

Henderson went public with the dispute Oct. 22 when he posted on the Detroit Free Press Facebook wall that he was worried by what he said were disingenuous tactics of the "Protect Working Families" group.

"It worries me that the campaign for Proposal 2 is playing so loosely with the facts," Henderson wrote.

In fact, Henderson said only one newspaper in the state sat down with Proposal 2 backers. The Free Press, he said, is making endorsement decisions on races involving about 450 candidates and the editorial board only meets with people who are involved in races that are a “close call.”

The “fact is," Henderson wrote, "Proposal 2 didn't represent that kind of close call for us."

Protect Working Families responded with its own Facebook response, calling the Free Press untruthful.

In an email to Michigan Capitol Confidential, Henderson said he has no record of requests from Prop 2 backers asking for a meeting. Henderson said the people running the campaign knew him and had his cell phone number and never contacted him.

Henderson said the backers of Proposal 2 likely wanted to come in "with a bunch of firefighters and cops" in an attempt to make him look bad for saying why he was against it.

"Most members of Congress get no more than a phone interview during endorsements," Henderson said. "There's nothing dismissive about that; Prop 2 got offered that much because it was last-minute, and they turned their nose up at it. That's on them  — not me.”

Dan Lijana, spokesman for Protect Working Families, referred questions to the statements on the group's Facebook page. The Facebook page said the Detroit Free Press wouldn’t have gotten its facts wrong if the Proposal 2 opponents were given a face-to-face meeting.

In March 2011, AnnArbor.com described Henderson as "a self-described staunch defender of collective bargaining rights." 

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See also:

Proposal 2: The 'Collective Bargaining' Amendment

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