Michigan and Proposal 2

This is a quick post to answer a question I keep getting in recent days. That question is if Michigan will pass Proposal 2, which would make collective bargaining constitutionally protected in Michigan.

The honest answer is “I don’t know.”

The only poll I’ve seen is from the Detroit Free Press and it’s showing that it’s likely Proposal 2 won’t be approved by the voters in Michigan. But some people might say that polls can lie and it could pass. After all, one of the most famous union leaders in history is from this state. How could it not pass?

The simple answer I can give is the money being poured into the campaign to defeat it.

A majority of the political ads I’ve seen on TV seem to be anti-Proposal 2, with ads in favor of Proposal 6 as a close second. Those ads seem to run more frequently than ads regarding the presidential election. Now, attack ads might not always be effective, but the ads against Proposal 2 have taken interesting strategies. There’s the one with the unionized police officer who is opposed to Proposal 2, which can give the message of “If union members are opposed to this, why should we support it?” But overall, the message of the ads has been the classic “Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children.”

The ads argue that if Proposal 2 is passed, it will be easier for drug addicts, alcoholics and pedophiles to be teachers and that union leaders don’t care about children. When you use children as the target of ads and their safety as the key issue in the fight, that changes the conversation completely. Additionally, it could create a panic among parents who fear for their children’s safety.

But even though there’s a pro-Proposal 2 billboard that I pass everyday on I-496 on my way to MSU, the amount of mailings opposing the proposal are numerous. On Saturday I checked the mail and found three anti-Proposal 2 mailings. The only pro-Proposal 2 mailings I’ve received have been from Teamsters Joint Council 43.

Yes, if Proposal 2 is rejected, it will probably be the result of thousands, maybe millions of dollars poured into the opposition campaign. Then again, if Proposal 6 is approved, it will also probably be the result of millions of dollars poured into that campaign. (Gov. Rick Snyder explains in a video on YouTube that the proposal is really just the result of a special interest, which it is.) It would probably be premature to assume that Michigan has suddenly become hostile to unions, because it just seems like people were persuaded through what they heard on the radio and on TV, saw in their mail and read in the papers.