Self-Centered and Reckless

What "Protect Our Jobs" wants to do to Michigan

At a news conference in Detroit, the group Protect Our Jobs unveiled the Constitutional amendment that they intend to put on the ballot.

Whatever virtues collective bargaining may have in the private sector, where workers must contend with companies that seek to maximize their profits, the situation of government employees is entirely different. In government, if unions succeed in forcing burdensome work rules or unsustainable benefits into a contract, it is taxpayers who must bear the burden.

The amendment the group proposes would establish that collective bargaining is a right that cannot be revoked or limited by the state Legislature. In effect, it would freeze in place a collective bargaining process that has put tremendous burdens on Michiganders and undermined democratic self-government at least as much as the emergency managers that are so loathed by the unions.

But that's not all. The amendment would undo a host of reforms aside from PA 4: limits on health care benefits that bring government employee benefits in line with what is common in the private sector will be gone — that alone will cost taxpayers billions; reforms to teacher tenure and layoff rules that will improve education by allowing districts to reward and hold on to their better teachers will also be reversed; competitive bidding on noninstructional services, even laws designed to prevent government HR departments from being used to collect PAC money, all of those will be wiped out. And the troubling trend of imposing unions on people who are not genuinely government employees will likely continue.

The Snyder administration has avoided the more fundamental changes that have been tried in Wisconsin and Ohio. It has sought to maintain the basic process of collective bargaining while reining in the excesses. Even that is too much, apparently, for Michigan's self-centered union bosses.

Collective bargaining for government employees is not a fundamental right, and as much as government unions might want to turn it into one, it is reckless for them to take a labor law that has served Michigan so poorly and attempt to make it part of the fundamental law of the state.