Proposal 2, if approved by Michigan voters in November, would add collective bargaining for government employees and private employees to the enumeration of rights in the state constitution. The proposal would also bestow significant legal power on collective bargaining agreements by allowing them to override state law in certain circumstances. This Policy Brief reviews the proposal, discusses its effect and reviews a number of laws that would or could be changed or abrogated under the proposal.

Proposal 2 is relatively brief. First, the measure would add a new section to Article I of the Michigan Constitution. This proposed Section 28 consists of six subsections.[*]

The proposed Article I, Section 28(1) creates a constitutional power permitting government employees and private employees to bargain collectively with their respective employers through exclusive labor representatives:

(1) The people shall have the rights to organize together to form, join or assist labor organizations, and to bargain collectively with a public or private employer through an exclusive representative of the employees’ choosing, to the fullest extent not preempted by the laws of the United States.

The proposed Article I, Section 28(2) defines collective bargaining as the mutual obligation of the employer and the exclusive labor representatives to negotiate over employees’ wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment:

(2) As used in subsection (1), to bargain collectively is to perform the mutual obligation of the employer and the exclusive representative of the employees to negotiate in good faith regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and to execute and comply with any agreement reached; but this obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or make a concession.

The proposed Article I, Section 28(3) states that with a couple exceptions, no existing or future state or local laws may “abridge, impair or limit” the collective bargaining rights articulated in subsection 1:

(3) No existing or future law of the State or its political subdivisions shall abridge, impair or limit the foregoing rights; provided that the State may prohibit or restrict strikes by employees of the State and its political subdivisions. The legislature’s exercise of its power to enact laws relative to the hours and conditions of employment shall not abridge, impair or limit the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment that exceed minimum levels established by the legislature.

The proposed Article I, Section 28(4) similarly circumscribes the power of state and local law over collective bargaining agreements, but this time with respect to any contractual obligation of employees to financially support their labor representative.

(4) No existing or future law of the State or its political subdivisions shall impair, restrict or limit the negotiation and enforcement of any collectively bargained agreement with a public or private employer respecting financial support by employees of their collective bargaining representative according to the terms of that agreement.

The proposed Article I, Section 28(5) defines the terms “employee” and “employer.”

(5) For purposes of this Section, “employee” means a person who works for any employer for compensation, and “employer” means a person or entity employing one or more employees.

The proposed Article I, Section 28(6) provides that if any portion of Proposal 2 is found in conflict with the U.S. Constitution or federal law, the remainder of Proposal 2 shall be effective.

(6) This section and each part thereof shall be self executing. If any part of this section is found to be in conflict with or preempted by the United States Constitution or federal law, such part shall be severable from the remainder of this section, and such part and the remainder of this section shall be effective to the fullest extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit.

Proposal 2 would also amend Article XI, Section 5 of the State Constitution by adding a new paragraph. This paragraph would confer broad collective bargaining powers on state civil service employees, but requires merit-based promotions:

Classified state civil service employees shall, through their exclusive representative, have the right to bargain collectively with their employer concerning conditions of their employment, compensation, hours, working conditions, retirement, pensions, and other aspects of employment except promotions, which will be determined by competitive examination and performance on the basis of merit, efficiency and fitness.


[*] The complete language of Proposal 2 is posted online at www.MIballot2012.org; see “Initiative Petition Amendment to the Constitution (Protect Our Jobs),” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2012), http://goo.gl/h5fsD (accessed Sept. 29, 2012). The new language that would be inserted into the Michigan Constitution by Proposal 2 also appears in this Policy Brief in “Appendix A: Proposal 2’s Ballot Description and Language.”