Labor — August 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

BREAKING – Michigan Board of State Canvassers prevents pro-labor ballot initiative from getting on Nov. ballot


Like we didn’t see THAT coming…

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers today deadlocked on putting the Protect Working Families (formerly Protect Our Jobs) ballot initiative on the November ballot. With help from Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette who recently issued an opinion saying the ballot proposal is unconstitutional, the two Republicans on the elections board refused to certify the petitions.

From a press release by Karla Swift, president of the Michigan chapter of the AFL-CIO:

The State Board of Canvassers failed today to approve a proposal to allow citizens to vote on a proposal to protect Michigan’s working families by ensuring collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

The campaign immediately filed a motion with the Michigan Supreme Court to bypass the Court of Appeals and let the state’s highest court determine whether citizens will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 2-2 deadlock decision by the State Board of Canvassers comes less than two weeks after the attorney general, at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder, issued a politically motivated and faulty legal opinion opposing the ballot initiative.

“The initiative meets all legal requirements. The attorney general’s role is to represent the state in legal matters, not interfere with ballot proposals,” said legal expert Andrew Nickelhoff.

“There is no legal reason this ballot proposal should not be placed before voters on Nov. 6.” Nickelhoff said.

Schuette’s opinion flies in the face of a ruling he made in 2004, when he was a Michigan Court of Appeals judge. He rejected an argument from the Coalition to Protect Affirmative Action that is similar to his opinion on our ballot proposal.

The Board of Canvassers already approved the petition’s technical form in March and the coalition submitted nearly 700,000 signatures in support of the initiative, more than twice the legal requirement.

The proposal adds one paragraph to one section of the constitution and clarifies the civil service section. It is similar to other single-issue amendments such as ones dealing with affirmative action, stem cell research and defining marriage.

The State Supreme Court will now rule whether to allow a vote on the initiative and prevent corporate special interests from silencing the voice of Michigan voters.

This is simply further proof that anti-labor forces in Michigan have buttoned up every avenue to create change in Michigan that favors working families. Working together, they have been able to thwart nearly every progressive action of any consequence, tying up the groups in court and delaying democracy.

The Protect Working Families organization will take this fight to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting their petitions approved prior to the August 27 deadline for putting things on the November ballot. They are calling for people to contact AG Schuette at and to hold house parties this evening to discuss the issue. You can sign up to host a meeting HERE.

Email AG Bill Schuette and tell him we will not be silenced. There is no legal reason this ballot proposal should not be placed before voters on Nov. 6. The attorney general’s role is to represent the state in legal matters, not interfere with ballot proposals.

You can help spread the word by hosting a house party this evening. All it takes is you inviting over a few people to discuss the importance of collective bargaining. Sign up HERE. As soon as you sign up, we’ll email you a house party kit and additional details. >

The elections board did approve two other proposals — one to mandate that 25% of our state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2025 and another that would give collective bargaining rights for home healthcare providers, provide certain information to consumers, require training of providers and establish the Michigan Quality Home Council. A proposal to allow for more casinos was removed from the ballot after being found unconstitutional this week by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

They will meet again soon to rule on the remaining to ballot proposals — one to requiring a statewide vote on a new international bridge and another to require a two-thirds legislative supermajority on any new tax increase.