A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Gongwer News Service is reporting that proponents of Proposal 2 claim the constitutional amendment “does not repeal a single law or statute.” The wording here is a distinction without a difference: The amendment may not “repeal” laws if it passes, but they would be nullified.

The wording of the amendment reads: "No existing or future law of the state or its political subdivisions shall abridge, impair or limit" unions' ability to "negotiate in good faith regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. … "

Attorney General Bill Schuette listed 170 different laws that would be altered or overridden by the amendment. The lawyer for Proposal 2, Andrew Nickelhoff, didn’t contradict him, telling reporters, "We can guess at how 'Protect Our Jobs' might affect existing legislation and we could spend all day doing that, but in the end, it's just going to have to be decided (in the courts) on a case-by-case basis."

The rest of the group's statement says, "What it does do is make sure that collective bargaining can take place and that broad mandates from the state don't trump decisions reached locally when workers and management come to an agreement about what is best for their workplace."

The problem is that local unions often want provisions that violate state law. That's why the Bay City Public Schools' contract protects drunk and stoned teachers. It is why district after district and city after city is attempting to dodge health care savings. And it’s why Grandville Public Schools lets teachers and local union representatives remove public documents from FOIA requests.

As MEA President Steve Cook puts it: "At any point you find the legislature where they have stepped in and said, 'You can no longer discuss these issues at the bargaining table, [Proposal 2] would overturn that.' " 

In short, if Proposal 2 were to pass, a local bargaining unit could agree to a provision that would constitutionally exempt them from complying with existing state laws.

This would effectively mean that local unions would be more powerful than publicly elected state representatives in Lansing. Taxpayers would be forced to keep sending money to local governments and school districts — but their representatives would be unable to pass any law that would ensure it is spent well.