All-proposal grid view

Proposal 2: The 'Collective Bargaining' Amendment

Election Update: In the Nov. 6, 2012 election, Proposal 2 was voted down, meaning that the "collective bargaining" constitutional amendment was not approved. The primary impact of this amendment would have been enshrining collective bargaining into the state constitution, granting it higher authority than the Legislature.

Mackinac Center analysis indicates this proposal would do the following:

  • Prop 2 would enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution.
  • Prop 2 would apply almost entirely to government unions, since private-sector unions are governed by federal law.
  • Prop 2 would make government union bargaining sessions into a super-legislature, allowing union contracts to overrule laws made by elected representatives.
  • Prop 2 would give labor unions the ability to repeal many of the reforms that have helped Michigan start to turn the corner after a decade of malaise. Elected representatives would be legislatively powerless to stop them.
  • A right-to-work law would be legislatively impossible. Unionized Michigan workers could not keep their jobs if they refused to make union contributions.

Mackinac Center
Publications on This Proposal



Proposal 2 of 2012: An Assessment


$1.6 Billion in Savings Lost Under Prop 2

Prop 2 May Put FOIA on Ice for Media, Others

Collective Bargaining Initiative Is About Power, Not Rights


Proposal 2: More Power for Government Unions

Collective Bargaining a 'Right' to Coerce

Prop 2 Is Not Simply About Collective Bargaining

Self-Centered and Reckless

In the News

Michigan Press Association joins opposition to Proposal 2

Michigan on the Waterfront

Michigan unions’ Election Day pushback

Unions make a stand for fixed rights in Michigan

Labor Director Vinnie Vernuccio on Fox Business's 'Cavuto' Show

Opposing points of view: Unions' power grab imperils Michigan's fragile economic recovery

Michigan on the Waterfront

$1.6 billion in savings scheduled to be lost under Proposal 2

Unions Strike Back in Michigan

Shikha Dalmia: The Next Battleground in the State Labor Wars

Editorial: Vote No on Prop 2, worst of the bunch

LaFaive: Prop 2 Would Restrict Access to Information

Unions Seek to Entrench Power in Michigan Initiatives

Unions Seek to Entrench Power in Michigan Initiatives

Midwest Unions’ Desperate Last Stand

Battle Over Collective Bargaining Is On

Click here for the 100-word Prop 2 summary to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Click here for the complete language of the proposed amendment.

Click here for the Center's PDF brochure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Prop 2?

The so-called “Collective Bargaining” amendment — Prop 2 — is a proposal intended for the November ballot. Prop 2 would enshrine union collective bargaining power in the Michigan Constitution.

What would Prop 2 do?

Prop 2 would allow government unions to overrule at the bargaining table a multitude of laws passed by our elected representatives. Prop 2 would also directly override numerous existing laws. The state attorney general has written that Prop 2 would repeal, in whole or in part, 170 laws. Under Prop 2, it would be legislatively impossible for Michigan to become a right-to-work state.

Would Prop 2 affect
all unions in Michigan?

Not entirely.

Prop 2 would apply mostly to government unions, since most private-sector unions are governed by federal law. Some small private-sector unions are governed by the state's Labor Relations and Mediation Act.

The only effect Prop 2 would have on the private-sector unions governed by federal law is that the amendment would make passing a right-to-work law impossible for both private and government unions without another constitutional amendment.  A right-to-work law allows workers to keep their jobs even if they choose not to contribute money to a union.

Is Prop 2 definitely on the ballot?


On Sept. 5th the Supreme Court ruled that Prop 2 would be on the November ballot.

This overruled an Aug. 14th vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which had deadlocked 2-2 on whether to approve or reject Prop 2.

Two members of the board voted against including Prop 2 on the ballot on the same grounds that the attorney general has cited: that the proposal is too broad and could not be summarized in the constitutionally required 100-word statement.

How would Prop 2 give unions a veto?

The amendment clearly states:

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

Aside from a couple exceptions, no state law past, present or future could limit what government union officials could win in labor contracts.

While this may sound innocent enough, it would fundamentally change the power structure in Michigan.

From Lansing to the hundreds of towns, cities and counties across the state, elected officials make laws controlling work rules, wages and benefits for government employees. These elected officials are responsible to voters and ideally protect voters’ interests when drafting the laws.

Prop 2 would make public employment laws moot because any collective bargaining agreement with government unions would have the power of the constitution and overrule state and local law. The only labor-related legislative power Prop 2 leaves to the voters’ elected representatives is making laws concerning strikes and setting minimum collective bargaining standards for government employees.

The consequences are far-reaching. Labor union heads, acting as a super-legislature, would have the ability to repeal at the bargaining table many of the government management reforms that have helped Michigan start to turn the corner after a decade of malaise.

Can elected officials restrain government unions at the bargaining table?

Frequently, no.

Government unions and politicians have often allied in a vicious circle. The unions give campaign contributions to friendly politicians. The politicians get elected and then negotiate generous contracts with the unions that supported them. The politicians also expand government, providing the unions with more dues-paying government employees.

The unions then have more money to give to friendly politicians for their next campaign. The politicians get re-elected, and the cycle goes on. Everyone wins — except for the taxpayers, who are stuck footing the bill.

Would Prop 2 outlaw strikes by
government employees?


Prop 2 leaves this power to the Legislature. Currently, such strikes are illegal under state law.

But Prop 2 does not outright outlaw government union strikes; it says “the state may prohibit or restrict” them. The amendment also allows the legislature to establish minimum standards for conditions of employment – such as minimum wages – but legislation could not limit collective bargaining in any other way

What laws would Prop 2 override?

Prop 2 would override or curtail a multitude of laws and reforms. Here are some examples.

  • Government union contracts could negotiate on a list of subjects meant to enhance public school management.
  • Government union contracts could reverse legislation protecting unionized workers from having to give money to union political causes without going through a burdensome and confusing “opt-out” process.
  • Government union contracts could repeal pension reforms that have already helped Michigan taxpayers avoid as much as $4.3 billion in government pension underfunding since 1996.
  • Government union contracts could gut the “80/20 law,” which protects taxpayers from subsidizing no more than 80 percent of government-employee health care premiums. Repealing this law alone could cost the state $1 billion annually.
  • Government union contracts could overrule the state’s Freedom of Information Act and open-meetings law — including the laws making those government union contracts public.

What education-related laws
would Prop 2 override?

  • Tenure reform laws, such as legislation permitting schools to remove poorly performing teachers, could be trumped.
  • Government union contracts could rewrite “Last-In/First-Out” legislative reforms protecting talented new teachers from being laid off simply because they lack seniority.
  • Government union agreements could end teacher evaluations and a district’s freedom to participate in school choice.
  • Prop 2 would allow unions to once again negotiate the government into becoming the bill collector for school employee union dues — including money for labor politics.
  • Cost-saving public school spending reforms like privatization of noninstructional services could vanish. Fully 61 percent of Michigan school districts now contract with private vendors for at least one major noninstructional service.  

Does Prop 2 repeal a special provision (Public Act 312) for public safety officers, such as policemen and firefighters?

It may.

Prop 2 could immediately repeal the binding arbitration provision in Public Act 312. This law mandates that public safety officers, who are forbidden to strike, always have access to binding arbitration to determine final contracts when negotiations are at an impasse.

Prop 2 could allow the Legislature to keep these officers from striking, but could take away their ability to engage in binding arbitration.