(Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted and abridged from the text of a speech delivered by Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center, to various groups around the state about the ballot proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot. We'll post one part each day this week explaining Proposals 1 through 5.)

Monday: Proposal 1 a Referendum on PA 4

Today: Proposal 2, The 'Collective Bargaining' Amendment

A “yes” vote on Proposal 2 would allow government union collective bargaining agreements to supersede state laws. It would make passing a right-to-work law impossible, repeal existing laws like “paycheck protection” and “dues check off” and probably cost taxpayers at least $1.6 billion in projected savings annually.

It also would abrogate in some way 170 Michigan laws, and over time make Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act all but worthless. A no vote rejects this union power grab.

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Here’s part of what the proposed amendment says:

"No existing or future law of the state or its political subdivision shall abridge, impair or limit …” unions’ ability to “negotiate in good faith regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.”

In other words, mandates written into government collective bargaining agreements will hold the power of constitutional mandate. No past, present or future law could change that.

If Proposal 2 is adopted, passing a right-to-work law — where workers need not financially support a union to work in a unionized environment — would be impossible. Americans are migrating to right-to-work states because of more job opportunities in those states. Paycheck protection and dues check off reforms for government employees would be repealed because these affect union dues collection and so are explicitly written into the initiative.

Paycheck protection prohibits unions from spending member dues on political campaigns without an employee’s express consent. Dues check-off requires government workers to give written permission to have union dues automatically deducted from their paycheck and delivered by their employer to the union.

If Proposal 2 passes, other solid labor and fiscal reforms could be reversed, costing Michigan taxpayers some $1.6 billion in annual projected savings, according to my colleagues F. Vincent Vernuccio and James Hohman.

It is also conceivable that unions would use their new powers to limit citizens’ access to government information through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Under Proposal 2, nothing would prevent government unions from inserting a collective bargaining agreement provision prohibiting disclosure of government documents, regardless of FOIA. They could even prohibit making public the collective bargaining agreement itself, and this provision would trump the requirements in Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

A "yes" vote on Proposal 2 would protect government employees unions directly, raise the cost of public services dramatically and ultimately place real limitations on acquiring government information. A “no” vote would reject the scheme.

For more information on the Nov. 6 ballot proposals, please see www.MIballot2012.org.

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