LANSING – Senate Democrats heeded the voices of the more than 5,000 working people who jammed the Capitol on Wednesday, and on Thursday they introduced Senate Joint Resolution I that would amend Michigan’s Constitution to guarantee every worker the right to organize and collectively bargain.
The Resolution was sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, and it was co-sponsored by the entire Senate Democratic Caucus. The simple resolution reads as follows:
“Sec. 28. Every person shall have the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations and to bargain collectively through representatives chosen by the members of the labor organizations as to wages, benefits, and conditions of employment.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature has intruded a raft of anti-worker and anti-union bills, 40 to date, such as the radical anti-union and anti-Democratic Emergency Financial Managers (EFM) package of bills that were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Ann Arbor. But, because Synder has said publicly, on the rare times he can be pinned down to a straight answer, that he does not want to bust unions, Senate Democrats hope he will support the amendment.
“Governor Snyder likes to talk about supporting the collective bargaining process, yet pushes through legislation that will strip away those rights away from Michigan’s workers one piece at a time,” said Sen. Bert Johnson, D -Detroit. “The thousands of workers that came to Lansing yesterday to voice their concerns deserve a clear answer from him on this issue.”
In fact, on Thursday a spokesperson for Snyder said that he has no intentions of getting rid of collective bargaining, and Whitmer said if that is truly the case, then Snyder should have no problem protecting that right within the state constitution.
“This amendment isn’t complex policy requiring weeks of review, it is one sentence that guarantees a fundamental right to our workers,” Whitmer said. “It’s time for the Governor to move past the carefully crafted talking points and tell us where he really stands on this.”
It’s obvious the GOP-controlled Senate has no intention of moving it because it was referred to the Committee on Government Operations, the place where bills go to die in committee. There are only two other items in that committee that never meets, and they are both sponsored by Democrats; one to creating an independent redistricting commission and the other to require a fiscal impact of every bill.
Barring the governor’s support and the Republics leadership in the House and Senate listening to the Governor to give it the required two-thirds approval, it will take a petition drive. Judging by the enthusiastic crowds in the Capitol the last couple of days, it will not be hard to get the more than 322,000 signatures to place it on the ballot.