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

Law Enforcement Does Not Universally Support Proposal 4

State sheriff's association says it's wrong for special interests to meddle with State Constitution

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Attorney General Bill Schuette and state law enforcement officers

Backers of Proposal 4 are trying to create the impression that Michigan's law enforcement leaders support Proposal 4. That's not so.

Michigan's highest ranking law enforcement official, Attorney General Bill Schuette, is opposed to Proposal 4. So is the Michigan Sheriff's Association.

"Bill Schuette's position on Proposal 4 is crystal clear,” said Rusty Hills, Schuette's director of public affairs. "He opposed the unionization of the U of M undergrads and he opposes the unionization of these home care workers."

Proposal 4 would lock into the state constitution a forced unionization scheme orchestrated by the Service Employees International Union when Jennifer Granholm was governor. As a result, more than 44,000 home-based caregivers were unionized and started losing money to the SEIU. The union has taken more than $32 million from the Medicaid checks of the elderly and disabled in Michigan since 2005.

"The Attorney General knows that Proposal 4 is just another attempt to fatten up union coffers," Hills said. "It is the last vestige of the Granholm administration."

Earlier this year, Schuette went to court to try and stop the SEIU from taking the money.

Proposal 4 campaign supporters have managed to get a handful of law enforcement officials to support the proposal. And they've been advertising that Proposal 4 would provide safe care because criminal backround checks would be required.

In fact, about 75 percent of home-based caregivers are taking care of their family and friends and criminal background checks are not necessary. A registry of other caregivers was created and background checks have been done in the past. They could continue to be done without Proposal 4.

One of ads running for Proposal 4 features long-time Ingham County Democrat, Sheriff Gene Wigglesworth. However, he is speaking for himself, not on behalf of the professional ogranization that represents sheriffs.

"We don't even get into the specifics of Proposal 4," said Terrence L. Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriff's Association. "With Proposal 4 and the other ballot proposals, we don't get any further than the fact that special interests shouldn't be trying to rewrite the State Constitution.

"Broad concepts are what belong in the constitution," he said. "It's not the place for these nuts and bolts political issues. By trying to get these proposals passed, the special interests want to get around elected officials. These special interests are trying to use the rhetoric and emotions of an election to bypass the facts and details that lawmakers are elected to consider."

Jungel said there are 83 county sheriffs in Michigan and they don't all agree.

"We can't possibly represent the views of all 83 sheriffs, who each have their own backgrounds and opinions," Jungel said. "If individual sheriffs take positions on various issues . . . that's their decision. So our position has to be more general. We oppose the idea of letting special interests rewrite the constitution."

Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines said he didn't think the proposal was good for Michigan.

"First and foremost, they shouldn't be messing with our constitution," Raines said. "If the people of Michigan want the constitution to be rewritten they have the chance to say so every 16 years. It's not something that unions or other special interests should be doing.

“Law enforcement officials are concerned with protecting people's basic rights," he said. "Why would we be in favor of unions coming in and saying to anyone, 'From here on, you're unionized?' "

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See also:

Proposal 4: The Unionization of Home-Based Caregivers

How the Forced Unionization of Day Care and Home Health Care Providers Took Place