Proposal 2 Would Allow Government Union Contracts to Invalidate Existing and Future State Laws

Center analysts estimate at least $1.6 billion in taxpayer savings lost annually

For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 1, 2012

Contacts:
F. Vincent Vernuccio, Director of Labor Policy or
Patrick J. Wright, Senior Legal Analyst or
Ted O’Neil, Media Relations Manager
989-631-0900

MIDLAND — If Proposal 2 passes on Nov. 6, government union collective bargaining agreements could invalidate numerous state laws meant to improve the quality of public services, and it would likely negate a projected $1.6 billion in annual taxpayer savings, according to a new Mackinac Center study released today.

“This proposal would fundamentally change the power structure in Michigan by letting collective bargaining agreements trump state laws, thereby giving government unions the ability to effectively veto laws made by our elected representatives,” according to Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio. “It is impossible to precisely calculate the taxpayer cost, because the amendment could reverse so many laws and prevent so many new ones. The cost is potentially limitless, but $1.6 billion in projected savings would almost certainly vanish.”

The proposal could also set the tone nationally for the types of ballot measures government unions try to pursue.

“Proposal 2 is the most important ballot initiative in the nation this November,” Vernuccio said. “The decision in Michigan will push the country toward reforms that have helped taxpayers, workers and job creators, or it will put the special interests first. It will impact every phase of state and local government.”

The potential challenges to state and local laws under Proposal 2 would be numerous; there are at least 1,698 different union contracts in Michigan’s public schools alone. Some of the major laws that would be affected by the proposal include the so-called “80/20 law,” which protects taxpayers from subsidizing more than 80 percent of government-employee health care premiums; the Freedom of Information Act; Michigan’s teacher tenure reforms; and a law ensuring that the best-performing — instead of the most senior— teachers are retained during school layoffs. Proposal 2 would also make it impossible for the Michigan Legislature to provide right-to-work protections for private- or government-sector employees.

The Policy Brief was co-authored by Vernuccio and other Mackinac Center analysts: Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright, Executive Vice President Michael J. Reitz and Assistant Fiscal Policy Director James M. Hohman. Also co-authoring was Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

The study can be found here. For more information on this and other ballot proposals, please see www.miballot2012.org.

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