Proposed Article I, Section 28(1), states that the people shall have the right to “organize together to form, join, or assist labor organizations” and second the power “to bargain collectively with a public or private employer.” The right of forming labor organizations is redundant, since the First Amendment protects the people’s right to form associations, including labor unions. The power to collectively bargain is somewhat redundant: It is included in the NLRA, the Labor Relations and Mediation Act and PERA. Placing this provision in the state constitution would effectively be an insurance plan to preserve the power of collectively bargaining if Congress or the Michigan Legislature were to repeal the above acts, all of which are at least 47 years old.
Nevertheless, placing a broad guarantee of collective bargaining powers into the state constitution would be significant. As discussed earlier under “The U.S. Constitution and Public-Sector Unionization,” there is no federal constitutional requirement that state and local governments negotiate with labor organizations. If Proposal 2 were approved, any modifications to collective bargaining powers would be subject to constitutional challenge and would likely require a new constitutional amendment.[*]
[*] Public-sector collective bargaining in most states is enabled by statute. At least two states — Florida and Missouri — guarantee a broad collective bargaining power in their constitutions. Florida Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 6 and Missouri Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 29. Note that both Florida and Missouri provide the same powers that appear in subsection (1) of Proposal 2. The remainder of Proposal 2 would be unique to Michigan.