The proposed amendment would add a paragraph to Article XI, Section 5, of the Michigan Constitution regarding the Civil Service Commission. Under this article of the state constitution, much of the state’s workforce is overseen by an independent Civil Service Commission. The CSC has authority to set wages, benefits and working conditions, and also oversee hiring and disciplinary decisions.
Since 1978, Article XI, Section 5, has permitted state police troopers and sergeants to “bargain collectively with their employer” about most aspects of employment, though not promotions, which are based on merit. The section has also given state troopers access to binding arbitration in order to settle protracted collective bargaining disputes.
Currently, the state constitution does not bestow the same collective bargaining power on other state employees under the CSC’s jurisdiction. The CSC’s own rules, however, allow most other state employees to unionize and engage in collective bargaining over a wide range of topics. These CSC rules are very similar to PERA. Through them, the CSC has effectively delegated much of its authority to the collective bargaining process. The CSC has, however, the ability to resolve impasses (when the state and a union cannot agree to terms), and the commission can intervene in negotiations or even amend its rules to ensure that the process works smoothly.
If Proposal 2 were adopted, state employees under the CSC’s jurisdiction and not in the state police force would receive the same constitutional basis for their ability to collectively bargain as state police, although unlike the police, these employees would not have recourse to binding arbitration. The main practical effect of the adoption of Proposal 2, then, would be to ensure through the state constitution that the CSC could not rescind its rules permitting state employee unionization and the exercise of collective bargaining power.