Michigan Campaign Aims to Protect Collective Bargaining

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AFT Michigan joined with labor and community groups, and working men and women from around the state, on March 6 at the state Capitol to launch the "Protect Our Jobs" campaign. Volunteers have started gathering signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to protect collective bargaining rights and strengthen working families.

"Rebuilding our economy means working together to strengthen the middle class, so small businesses can grow and create more jobs," says John Armelagos, a registered nurse from Ann Arbor. "Now more than ever, workers need the right to speak up to protect our wages, our benefits, and our voice—and that's what this proposal is all about. Michigan workers helped create the middle class, and now we need to protect our collective bargaining rights to help rebuild our economy."

Over the past year, Lansing politicians have moved one anti-worker measure after another, doing nothing to help put Michigan back to work. There are currently more than 80 bills pending in the state Legislature that weaken protections for working people and dismantle collective bargaining rights. For example, the Legislature recently approved a bill (S.B. 971) that would ban collective bargaining rights for graduate student research employees, over the objections of the University of Michigan board of regents.

"It's clear Lansing politicians are making a political power grab and trying to silence the collective voice of our teachers, nurses and firefighters," says Karen Kuciel, a fifth-grade teacher from Warren. "Collective bargaining rights give all workers a voice, and help protect your job, your wages and benefits, and your safety. Without these protections, CEOs can arbitrarily fire workers, cut wages, pensions and healthcare benefits, and outsource jobs to countries like China and Mexico."

The Protect Our Jobs site has more information about the campaign, including the proposed constitutional amendment. [Protect Our Jobs]

March 9, 2012