The proponents of Proposal 2 made the rounds claiming that collective bargaining has been put in other states' constitutions and therefore Proposal 2 was nothing new or radical.
Their statement was meant to mislead. While some state constitutions allow collective bargaining, no other state constitution allows collective bargaining agreements to override state laws related to “wages, hours, and terms of conditions of employment,” a very broad term that includes matters as trivial as the price of candy bars and soda at work.
Looking at some other state constitutions, Article 1, Section 6 of Florida’s Constitution allows collective bargaining, but provides right-to-work protections and prohibits government-employee strikes:
The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.
Missouri’s Article 1, Section 29, allows collective bargaining for private and public employees, but does not have state law trumped by collective bargaining agreements:
That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.
Article 1, Section 19 of New Jersey’s Constitution allows private-sector bargaining, but not government-sector bargaining. It states:
Persons in private employment shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Persons in public employment shall have the right to organize, present to and make known to the State, or any of its political subdivisions or agencies, their grievances and proposals through representatives of their own choosing.
Article 13, Sections 1 and 2 of Hawaii’s Constitution allow collective bargaining in both the private and public sectors, but does not allow the trumping of state law:
Section 1. Persons in private employment shall have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining.
Section 2. Persons in public employment shall have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining as provided by law.
A few things stand out. First, just as was the case with Michigan’s now failed Proposal 2, the states that put private-sector bargaining in their constitution are acting redundantly. Federal law has allowed private-sector bargaining since 1935 and no change in that law is likely.
But more importantly, Michigan’s Proposal 2 differed from these other states in a couple of key ways. Unlike Missouri, New Jersey and Hawaii, which are neutral on right-to-work protections and directly in contrast to Florida on that issue, Michigan’s Proposal 2 absolutely would have prohibited passage of a right-to-work law. Most importantly, however, Proposal 2 was alone in allowing collective bargaining agreements to override state laws.
Proposal 2 was a radical idea that gives tremendous power to unions to obtain a special set of rules for themselves and their membership that cannot be altered, modified or reformed by the Legislature. No other state has taken this drastic step.