Note: The following contentions are prominent among the arguments used by opponents of the proposal. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
State Employees Do Very Well Under Current System
The amendment is unnecessary. State employees in Michigan already have collective bargaining rights, and are well compensated compared to their peers in both the private sector and in other state governments.
Civil Service Commission Has Acted Responsibly
While the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has the power to revise contracts, rarely has it actually exercised this power. Under the bargaining system created by the CSC state employees are already paid above-average wages compared to both other states and to private-sector employees in Michigan, further indicating that the current system is fair.
Would Cause Delays in New Contracts
Binding arbitration leads to delays. On average the parties must wait nearly two years for a final ruling. Arbitration awards are likely to be overly generous to state employees, increasing the cost of state government, leading to increased taxes, cuts in services, or both.
Hurts Taxpayers by Giving Excessive Power to Government Unions
The amendment is tilted in favor of state employee unions. The union has the power to call for binding arbitration, but the amendment contains no prohibition on strikes. At the same time the state is obligated to bargain in good faith, but no such duty is placed on union officials.
The Real Goal Is to Stop Privatization
Under its authority to determine which issues are subject to negotiation, the Civil Service Commission has prohibited bargaining over whether and how much of state government services will be performed by state employees, versus contracted out to private firms (privatized). Unions have worked vigorously to pass legislation limiting privatization, with little success. (For examples see House Bill 6088, Rivet Amendment to House Bill 5643, Plakas Amendment to House Bill 5467, etc.) That’s why they want to limit the practice and any expansion of it by prohibiting it in the collective bargaining contracts of state employees, which some believe this proposal might do. This would result in less efficient and more costly delivery of state services. Not only would fewer services be provided by private firms whose performance is boosted by market incentives, but state employees might also have less incentive to perform at high levels, since competition from privatization could be taken off the table.
It Will Cost Taxpayers
The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates that, based on the experience with binding arbitration yielding retroactive pay hikes for state police, the retroactive costs for a three-year contract for all state workers could exceed $500 million. Looking forward, every one-percent salary increase for all classified employees costs the state over $30 million. Some experts contend that state government faces a structural revenue shortfall, due to the fact that spending has continued to increase, while revenues have not risen as much as expected. The legislature has all but drained the Budget Stabilization Fund (BSF, or "Rainy Day Fund") in order to sustain current spending levels, and dipped into many other temporary funding sources. This is not the time to increase expenses, especially considering that state workers are now very well paid.