MichiganVotes Bills

Michigan bill would require governments to negotiate minimum staffing

Delie: Bill is not a matter of public safety, but a needless expansion of government

A Michigan House bill would make minimum staffing of government offices a required subject of union negotiations, whether or not public safety is at issue. The bill would force employers to negotiate the matter “in good faith.”

House Bill 4688 was submitted in May by Rep. Jim Haadsma, D-Battle Creek, and referred to the labor committee he chairs.

Read it for yourself: House Bill 4688 of 2023

“The bill could potentially increase staffing costs to the state, local school districts, intermediate school districts (ISDs), and public school academies (PSAs),” reads the House Fiscal Agency analysis. “Any fiscal impacts would be directly related to whether any collective bargaining negotiations result in agreements pertaining to minimum staffing levels that raise current staffing levels in any state offices or schools.”

Steve Delie, the Mackinac Center’s director of labor policy, submitted testimony opposing the bill.

“At minimum, this will increase the costs and complexity of negotiations between public bodies and their unions,” Delie testified. “Unions have an incentive to increase staffing levels, which reflect additional revenue in the form of additional dues-paying members. This incentive is present regardless of whether additional staffing is necessary. Increasing the size and cost of government is not in the best interest of taxpayers.”

There were 94 pages of citizen testimony in favor of the bill, mostly in the form of one-line emails urging a yes vote.

“I support HB 4688 to ensure the safety of our community with reasonable staffing” is representative of the effort.

Delie testified that minimum staffing is already a mandatory negotiation subject for public safety jobs, and House Bill 4688 wouldn’t create new protections.

“By requiring public bodies to negotiate over staffing, particularly when staffing levels are not a safety issue, HB 4688 incentivizes needless growth of government at the taxpayer’s expense,” Delie wrote.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.