Labor, Lies, Michigan, Political Ads, Teachers — September 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm

UPDATED: The importance of collective bargaining and why Prop 2 opponents are lying to Michigan voters


Collective bargaining helps ALL workers and anti-labor forces know & fear that

The anti-labor, pro-business group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers has a television ad out now that may be the most egregious, lie-filled, dishonest political ad on Michigan televisions at the moment.

The ad is designed to make Proposal 2, a ballot initiative to protect collective bargaining rights in our state, look like it will endanger children rather than giving our teachers the right to bargain for smaller class sizes, living wages, health care, and retirement benefits.

Almost every day, you see someone on the right accusing groups on the left of using scare tactics. And yet, this ad is the most shameless effort to frighten voters that you’re likely to see this election cycle. They even use the words “dangerous”, “terrifying”, and “risk”.

Here’s the transcript:

When we send them off in the morning, we should be certain they’re safe at school. But what if Proposal 2 passes? It would eliminate safety rules for school bus drivers. Worse, Proposal 2 could prohibit schools from removing employees with criminal records. That’s dangerous for kids and terrifying for parents. Instead of just worrying about our kids grades, we’ll have to pray for their safety. Vote no on Proposal 2. We can’t take the risk.

Protect Working Families has issued a demand that the deceitful ad be removed from the air.

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution’s latest ad lies to attack Proposal 2. The 30-second ad falsely claims that Proposal 2 will block schools from removing employees with criminal backgrounds and remove safety standards for school bus drivers.

“The last thing we need is parents worrying about the lies in this ad,” said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. “Proposal 2 won’t make it harder to protect our kids. Collective bargaining actually helps law enforcement keep our schools and our communities safe.”

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The lies spread by these shadow groups won’t pass muster in the light of day,” says labor and employment lawyer Michael Lee.

According to Lee, “Under the Revised School Code of Michigan, all current teachers and newly hired teachers receive background checks conducted by the Michigan State Police and the FBI. Prop 2 doesn’t change that. If an employee of a public school is charged with a crime, disclosure to the Superintendent of the district is required under the Pupil Protection Act. Prop 2 does not change that either. If a school employee is convicted of a crime, the due process and legal prosecution is not affected by Prop 2.”

The claim that Prop 2 would eliminate safety standards for school bus drivers has already received a “foul” from The Center for Michigan’s independent Truth Squad. (

Federal and State of Michigan law make clear that this claim is false. Labor organizations do not and cannot bargain about the licensing requirements under federal and state law.

“School employees cannot drive school busses unless they have a CDL-S drivers license (Commercial Drivers License with S endorsement). Bus drivers must pass a safety skills test and meet other requirements to obtain a CDL-S license. The CDL-S school bus drivers license is required under federal law, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act, and is administered by the State of Michigan,” says Andy Nickelhoff, lawyer for the Protect Working Families campaign. “The ad is false, plain and simple.”

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution is a shadowy front group that refuses to reveal who is bankrolling its efforts. Corporate special interests hide behind these shadowy groups to attack working families without fear of discovery. These groups must immediately disclose their funding source.

Corporate special interests have already spent $10.2 million to attack collective bargaining and have pledged to spend millions more. These corporate bosses want to squeeze out every bit of profit while the people who actually do the work see their pay stagnate and cut.

The truth is that collective bargaining gives teachers a voice to negotiate for smaller class sizes to better educate our children, time to complete training required by law and input on policies that affects students. Collective bargaining gives working families a voice to negotiate for fair wages, benefits and working conditions that benefit us all.

Voters shouldn’t be fooled by false ads by shadowy front groups.

For more information, visit

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) calls themselves “a taxpayer watchdog organization”. What they are, in fact, is a pro-business, anti-union front group. Their president, Jared Rodriguez, is also president of the West Michigan Policy Forum. Their chairman is none other than Doug DeVos. Part of their mission is to make Michigan a so-called “Right to Work” state. Their 2012 forum was highlighted by multiple presentations on how RTW will solve all of our problems. So, when PMT is telling you that your children are in danger from teachers wanting a fair shake, you know exactly why you’re being told that. They, along with the group Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), have spent nearly $10 million to defeat Proposal 2:

To date, CPMC and Protecting MI Taxpayers have spent or committed a total of $8,251,479.00 on multiple media advertising campaigns to attack working families. Many of the ads contain false information and misleading claims.

Notably, the group refuses to reveal its funders.

Here’s the truth about collective bargaining: erosion of collective bargaining rights directly correlates to lower middle class incomes and income disparity.

Check out this graph:

It shows how, since 1979, the percentage of American workers who are covered by collective bargaining agreements has shrunk and income disparity has risen. Here’s a video that explains it in detail:

The fact is, collective bargaining DOES protect working families. ALL working families, not just those who are in a union.

Protect Working Families spells it out in their most recent television ad:


If you’d like to volunteer to help get out the vote in favor of Proposal 2, click HERE.

UPDATE: Jocelyn Benson weighed in on this today, as well. Benson is a law professor at Wayne State University who also actively pushes for election contribution disclosure through the Michigan Transparency Coalition.

Secret money shouldn’t decide Michigan ballot campaigns.

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers has spent or reserved $11.3 million on advertising so far, but has not declared a single contribution or donor to the Secretary of State. Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution has spent or reserved $6.545 million on advertising so far, but has declared less than $354 thousand dollars in contributions. With more than $17.8 million dollars targeting a single ballot proposal, Michigan voters deserve far more transparency, especially in light of the false ad content these groups are spreading.

The claim that Prop 2 would eliminate safety standards for bus drivers, teachers and other school employees has already received a “foul” from The Center for Michigan’s independent Truth Squad. ( Yet, such falsehoods keep resurfacing in press releases and television ads from these front groups.

Our democracy is based on the principle that well-informed citizens will make reasonable choices. When no one is held accountable for falsehoods spread through millions of dollars’ worth of secret special interest advertising, working families pay the price.