The proposed state constitutional amendment known as "Reform Michigan Government Now" is finally receiving much-needed public scrutiny following the Mackinac Center’s publication yesterday of a PowerPoint presentation posted online by the United Auto Workers Region 1‑C. The presentation was shockingly blunt in describing how the RMGN proposal borrows populist reforms as a Trojan Horse for "changing the rules of politics in Michigan to help Democrats."
One of the most gratifying aspects of this incident is seeing the efforts of one of our interns pay off. Jim Vote, a graduate student at Wayne State University serving as our labor policy intern this summer, came across the presentation on the UAW Region 1-C Web site while he was doing background research for a paper on union financial disclosure.
That research was the sort of tedious, though important work that our interns are sometimes assigned. Jim had the presence of mind to save a copy of the presentation and remind me of it later during a lull in the process of researching and writing our union finance paper. His care on an "off-topic" issue was very fortunate for us: The presentation was removed from the UAW Web site shortly afterward.
Jim’s take on the presentation and the RMGN is that it was a partisan effort to distract voters from real reform — an important point he made in a blog post. When I finally had time to review the PowerPoint more closely myself, I nearly fell out of my chair at the document’s forthright description of RMGN as a partisan maneuver. We looked through the file to check its authenticity and found a cached Web page that verified the UAW Region 1-C had indeed posted a PowerPoint presentation meant to encourage their members to support the initiative. A spokesperson for the UAW has since acknowledged that the document was on their Web site, and the file’s veracity has not been questioned.
Pat Wright, the Center’s senior legal policy analyst, and I introduced the document to the people of Michigan in a radio interview on Thursday, and the rest will soon be a part of Michigan political lore. But none of this would have happened if it hadn't been for the efforts of a sharp and diligent intern.
Paul Kersey is director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.