Court of Appeals Hears Collective Bargaining Arguments

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

The Court of Appeals needs to decide if petitioners followed the rules laid out by the Constitution to get their collective bargaining proposal on the November ballot.

The organization Protect Our Jobs argues they met all requirements.

"Almost 700,000 people signed petitions to get this on the ballot," said Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for Protect Our Jobs. "There's no doubt in my mind that we followed the law to the letter."

Opponents, including Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, argue the proposal keeps voters in the dark.

"We believe that there's an affirmative obligation to when you're circulating a petition that makes sweeping changes to tell the people exactly what they're signing and exactly what this will do," said Gary Gordon, attorney for Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, the group opposed to the proposal. "We don't think they did, and the Board of Canvassers didn't they think did."

The Board of Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines on the issue last week. One of the concerns is that all the changes simply can't be summed up in the required 100 words.

"There are 170 laws that would be impacted, according to the attorney general, and so you can't really summarize that very easily very shortly, because it's so broad," Gordon said.

Some of the effects on laws would impact pensions, hourly wages, and disputes in the work place. Opponents argue every single change, up to 170, should have been republished in the petition

"The petition would be like the Manhattan phone book," Nickelhoff said. "I mean, it's not feasible, and it doesn't make sense, because that would only confuse voters, to have all of that overload."

No matter how the court rules, Protect Our Jobs is here to stay.

"We're fighting on behalf of the millions of working families in Michigan," said Ken Brock, campaign manager for Protect Our Jobs. "We're not going to give up just because a bunch of rich lawyers got in our way."

The Court of Appeals has until Monday to issue a ruling.

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