Well below the national media's radar, Michigan voters delivered a defeat to the unions, especially the SEIU, rejecting two ballot measures that would have entrenched union power. Proposal 4, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have in effect made home health care workers government employees, and fodder for the SEIU. Dave Murray of M Live reports:
Proposal 4, an effort to classify home healthcare workers as public employees because they accept money from a government program, was soundly defeated Tuesday,
The measure failed 57 percent to 43 percent, with 2,499,905 people voting against the proposal and 1,897,084 voting in favor, with 95 percent of the precincts reporting. (Update: the final result was 60 - 40)
The proposal would have amended the state constitution to create a registry that was intended to link caregivers with elderly and disabled people, as well as provide background checks and some training to the workers.
But opponents said the move was orchestrated by the Service Employees International Union, which organized the workers under the Granholm administration and collects about $6 million in dues a year, money subtracted from Medicaid checks.
Michigan voters also delivered a further blow to unions by rejecting Proposal 2. Michael J. Reitz of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy explains:
Organized labor may be celebrating the presidential election, but union leaders who take the long view have good cause to be worried. Proposal 2's failure indicates the unions miscalculated the mood of Michigan voters and that a national trend of confronting public union arrangements will continue. (snip)
Union leaders in Michigan saw an opportunity to reverse this decline and circumvent public union reform by injecting the constitution with a labor-friendly inoculation; Proposal 2 would have empowered government unions to override sensible reforms at the bargaining table and would have hog-tied legislators and local officials. The measure also would have guaranteed an untouchable funding source for organized labor. If successful in Michigan, national labor leaders planned to export the strategy of constitutional amendment to other states, according to the president of the AFL-CIO.
I cannot claim to be an expert on Michigan, though I spent a lot of time there as a consultant I n the 80s and 90s, but am fascinated by the lack of public support for the unions' agenda. My conjecture is that union households are outnumbered by nonunion households, and are seen as a privileged, self-serving interest group. I wonder if unions are seen as causing the decline of the once vigorous manufacturing sector?
We can expect President Obama's second term to feature a strong pro-union agenda, much of it carried out by appointed officials in the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board.