In 2012, the group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers was formed as a front group for anti-union forces who wanted to defeat Proposal 2 which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights for workers into Michigan’s state constitution. The group has been dormant since their victory in November of 2012 but was resurrected last spring to push a ballot initiative of their own, one which will repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law which helps maintain decent wages for construction workers in our state.
Over the past few months, PMT has raised over a million dollars, largely from three sources. They got $360,000 from the Michigan Freedom Fund, an anti-union group funded largely by the DeVos family. They also got nearly $263,115 from the Construction Legal Rights Foundation, which is part of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., the VERY anti-union trade group for the national construction industry. ABC itself ponied up another $326,884, and McKinley Associates kicked in another $55,000.
This cadre of anti-union front groups working to diminish the wages of Michigan workers has hired Silver Bullet LLC out of Las Vegas to circulate petitions for them. Silver Bullet has been working to gather signatures across the state.
Yesterday, Barb Shelton, the former Chair of the Jackson County Democratic Party contacted me about something she had witnessed. “I had two people knocking doors in my low-income, high-minority population neighborhood in Jackson,” she said. “They were passing the petitions off as ‘being for safer schools’. They also told my neighbor she could ‘qualify to win a cell phone’. I asked for their boss…of course they left.”
Sadly, Michigan courts have ruled that petitioners can say pretty much anything they want because people signing them can read the language on the petition itself. Of course, most don’t read the microprint on the petition.
It’s a pathetic state of affairs when corporate-funded ballot committees resort to lying to poor people in low-income neighborhoods to put a proposal on the ballot to ensure that many of those same people will be sure to earn even less at their jobs. If you see people with these petitions in your community, send them packing.